I Believe in Marriage Equality

I believe in love. I believe in equality.

Those two simple facts mean that I must stand up, as an American, as a feminist, as a decent human being, and say this:

I believe in gay marriage equality.

Separate is not equal. Second-class is not freedom. It is a simple concept–and a lesson America learned a long time ago, yes? Well, apparently, we need a refresher course, so I’ll say it again:

Separate is not equal. Second-class is not freedom.

So long as gay marriage is available only in a smattering of states, and referendums on put on ballots across the country to actually vote for people’s right to be equal, America cannot call herself a free country. We are not the land of the free.

We are, however, the land of the brave. I see, every day, gay men and women standing up and openly existing–being who they are–in the face of hatred and violence. Here I am. I exist. I deserve equal rights. I am just like you. I love my partner. I want to be with them for the rest of my life. I, too, want the American dream.

Here I am. I exist. I am bullied. I am hated. I am harassed, assaulted, spat upon, and demonized. I am just like you.

Standing up in the face of such hatred, to put oneself in danger by openly being who they are–that is one of the bravest acts one can do, and I see it done every day.

How can I, as an ally, do anything else but stand with my brothers and sisters?

I couldn’t call myself a friend to the many people I hold dear if I didn’t stand up for them.

Stop that. That’s not cool. That’s discrimination. That’s not right. Your hatred won’t be tolerated here. I am not an ally to your bigotry. You won’t find a safe space to spew such hateful vitriol in me. I believe in equality. I believe my friends should be able to live their lives and marry who they love.

I believe my friends should be able to marry who they love. I believe everyone should be able to marry who they love.

I say this to friends and family. I say this to the people of Kentucky. I say this to Mitch McConnell. I say this to President Obama. I say this to the Supreme Court. I say this to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in gay marriage. And I won’t give up.

Take Medication, Or Else.

Last night I discovered a woman of my acquaintance had been arrested under a mental inquest warrant–someone close to her (we know who it is, but to preserve this woman’s privacy, I’m concealing certain details to prevent her from being identified from this post) had gone to the police and claimed she had a mental disorder and was not taking medication for it.

From what I know, this warrant is a means to force one’s relatives to get treatment for mental disorders. You’d suppose that this would require a lot of proof, both of the diagnosis, refusal of treatment, and a danger to someone, right? Apparently not. The woman I referenced above is completely able-bodied, and has not threatened or posed a danger to anyone–but that did not prevent Louisville Metro Police from sending two squad cars to this woman’s home, arresting her, and detaining her for several hours before discovering–whoops!–she had no mental disorder.

So, apparently the word of one person is enough to get someone locked up for presumably refusing to take medication. I received a text message today, the sender said:

“Still I could see it if they claimed she was psycho or dangerous, but _____? Please!”

I responded thusly:

“I can’t. Everyone has the right to choose to take medication or not. That right is meaningless if people who have conditions for which medications are available aren’t allowed to refuse.”

I cannot describe how angry it makes me to see such blatant evidence of disregard for the rights and humanity of those of us who are differently abled–and even those who are thought to be differently abled. To know that the entire time I refused medication, I was one phone call away from being arrested, thrown in jail, committed, and forced to take medication frightens and enrages me.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any information via Google–as in, the requirements to obtain a mental inquest warrant, what happens to the person the warrant was gotten against, or if it can be challenged. This information is something that I, and the PWD community in general, need to have. But ultimately, this is something that should. not. happen. No one has the right to force medication on another. Everyone has the right to refuse medication, to refuse treatment.

Tales of Epilepsy: Refusing Treatment

For a long time, I refused any kind of treatment for my epilepsy. For a period of my life, I hated any kind of drug, even aspirin or acetaminophen, and refused to take anything. And I got endless harassment for it. It was my decision. It was my body, and my choice whether or not to pump chemicals into it, and I chose not to. I knew well the consequences of my decision—I knew that it left me open to seizures, should the circumstances, and my body’s reactions to them, be the right combination, and I chose not to take medication anyway.

I was foolish, people said. I wasn’t taking care of myself. Didn’t I know all of the bad things that could happen to me if I had a seizure at the wrong moment? I was being immature, people said. I should take medication. I didn’t like drugs? Well, I should suck it up and take them anyway. I was being selfish. How dare I!

I quickly saw it wasn’t about me for these people. It was about them. They would worry about me going away to college with untreated epilepsy. I inflicted my epilepsy upon others. My body, my neurological disorder, my choice to reject medication, and my seizures were mine. I made my decision, and I had to live with it. I had to live with my epilepsy every day. Not them.

Every partial, every seizure was an opportunity for friends, family, EMTs, ER staff, and random strangers to lecture me on my choice, and to attempt to cajole me into taking medication. I was already struggling with the loss of control over my own body. I was struggling with memory loss. I struggled with the injuries I’d gotten from falling down stairs, knocking my head on the concrete, the soreness from my body tensing up and then jerking about. I struggled with the indignity of pissing myself. I struggled with the humiliation of the lonely walk from the cab, the ambulance, to my bed, knowing I looked like hell, wasn’t quite fully aware yet, and very few actually cared enough about me and my well-being, to actually ensure I was alright. I struggled with the knowledge that I could not ever fulfill my dream of being an officer in the United States military because I had abnormal brain waves on an EEG, and these people were taking advantage of all of that to get me to do something I did not want to do, had chosen not to do, because they wanted me to do it, so I would not inconvenience them.

Sure, there were some good arguments. I could hurt someone else. My life would be much easier if I took medication. I—can’t actually think of anymore than that. But what no one considered is that I considered all of that already, and I still did not want medication. I had my reasons. They were even more intimate. Sometimes, I would get so frustrated I would blurt it out, in a desperate attempt to shut them up. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes I got, “So? Get over it already.”

My professors were outraged that I hadn’t told them while on a study abroad trip. So much so, in fact, that when I had one, they threatened to send me home if I didn’t take medication. I had very little choice. So I did. I took medication that had just been released in Europe, that hadn’t even been considered by the FDA in America, which I knew nothing about. When I forgot to bring the medication on a weekend trip, I was lectured, reduced to tears, forced to remain on the bus while the rest of my classmates toured a chateau, and forced to take a Xanax. I wouldn’t be allowed to join our group on our next stop, Auschwitz, if I didn’t take the Xanax. What choice did I have? None. So I did. I took a drug that I didn’t, and still don’t, even know the name of. I took a pill that I knew would do nothing for me because my professor thought it might, and that was all that mattered. My knowledge of my own disorder, my own body, didn’t matter.

When I got home from the trip, and that new drug ran out, I got on medication. Once I started, I couldn’t easily stop—my body adjusting to the lack of drugs would mean more partials and more seizures while the drug was purged from my body. I’ve been on medication ever since. It’s been a year and a half since my person was disregarded, my choice disrespected, and my agency taken from me. Everyone is happy I’m taking medication. They’re so pleased that I got a little keychain pillholder for emergencies. They’re satisfied that I’m being the Responsible Broken Body. Everyone is happy, but me.

Kentucky LGBTs and Discrimination.

Last night I came upon this documentary. It is called “Out in Silence.” Joe Wilson, living in DC, decided to put a wedding announcement in his hometown paper, in Oil Town, PA, coming out to his hometown after years of being closeted. What happened next was both expected and unexpected–a lot of folk were enraged that a gay man put a wedding announcement in the newspaper, and used it as a launching pad to voice their opposition to gay rights. He expected that. What Joe did not expect was a letter from a mother in Oil Town, asking for his help. Her teenaged son is gay, you see, and getting harassed and bullied for it. The school does nothing. So, Joe Wilson and his partner make the trip to Oil Town, Pennsylvania, and this film is the result. It is 55 minutes long; if you have time to watch it, I would recommend you do so.

The teenage boy, CJ’s story is heartbreaking. He’s verbally harassed and physically beaten. He gets death threats. People threaten to burn down his home. Teachers and administrators are present and do nothing. With Joe’s help, CJ and his mother begin to fight the school board (one of the school board members smirks as CJ’s mother describes the harassment and bullying CJ suffers). They eventually take their fight to the legislature, and win anti-discrimination training for school teachers.

This morning, I wake up to this: Tim Ravndal, President of Montana’s Big Sky Tea Party jokes on his facebook page about murdering LGBT folks, and Matthew Shepard’s murder in 1998 is referenced as a “guide.”

Horrific, yes? The Big Sky Tea Party has since voted to remove Ravndal as President.

Where am I going with this?

I think you know.

Read the rest at my Local Voices blog here.

Update on Double Shot: Non Apology Comfirmed.

Apparently, Brian Franklin sent off an indignant e-mail to Fox23. On the broadcast, we’re only treated to point #3 (of who knows how many), which is at the end of the segment.The gist of it is this:

Franklin was not joking, and he is not sorry. He thinks that everyone who spoke out against his comments is being selfish, for only fighting for “their own rights” instead of fighting for his right to ban breastfeeding mothers from his shop.

Right.

1. Breastfeeding mothers weren’t the only ones speaking against his comments.

2. Breastfeeding mothers are not selfish for defending their right to feed their children while in his shop, and their children’s right to be fed when they’re hungry.

3. He wants someone else to fight for his “rights”–is he too lazy to do it himself? Who’s selfish now?

I cannot fathom what kind of hoop-jumping that would lead to this idea. But it’s safe to say, I still don’t want a guy like Franklin making my coffee. Watch the news report here.

See Get Your Activism On: A Double Shot of Discrimination and Espresso.

Get Your Activism On: A Double Shot of Discrimination and Espresso.

Earlier today, The Double Shot Company, a coffee shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, committed a big no-no: they announced on Twitter that breastfeeding was banned in their shop.

But whoops! Breastfeeding is legally protected in Oklahoma, rendering their announcement illegal. The tweet spread like wildfire. Boycotts and sit-ins started being planned. The coffee shop was being denouncement, roundly and loudly.

Their response? This Tweet:

Settle down, folks. We just don’t like walking across the room and seeing your breast. Maybe you could do it in private.

Ah, the old ‘your milk-filled breasts with babies attached are nasty’ approach. Needless to say, that didn’t help matters, to put it lightly.

I wondered, at that Tweet, if the account actually represented the business, so I did a little investigating. Brian Franklin, the owner of the account, is the “Roastmaster General” at the company, as seen on their website. The Twitter feed is even shown on their website’s main page. I was kind of hoping it was a joke. But no. It’s not. This guy is serious. Apparently he thought his response was appropriate. But anyhow, the criticism didn’t stop. What did Mr. Franklin, General of Coffee Beans do?

Backtracked.

Ok ok, breastfeeding allowed again at the DoubleShot. Hey! Breastfeeding all around. 🙂

I don’t know what it is about antagonizers, but they think an about-face and a smiley will solve the problem. Charming, real-life smiles don’t make up for discriminatory behavior-a colon+parentheses internet smiley does even less.

But us angry-feminists and lactivists didn’t react in the fantasy-woman way, namely, smiles, kisses, and forgiveness. So he tweeted again:

I was just kidding anyway. Didn’t expect that blow up. Sorry to get you guys riled up.

And here we get the non-apology apology. Us wimminz should be satisfied now, right? It was just a joke!

I don’t think the women of Twitter will be satisfied with his behavior and backtracks. I’m just waiting for the Humorless Feminists charge.

I have to wonder if there’s a misogynistic template somewhere, because these instances of sexism and discrimination always follow the same script.

Nevertheless, I know the one place I’m avoiding next time I visit Tulsa. You should avoid it too–when a business openly and publicly demonstrates their willingness to discriminate, even when it’s plainly illegal, the likelihood of worse instances of discrimination behind closed doors is high. That’s not someone I want making my coffee. Express your displeasure on Twitter, or directly at the source.

Sorry, Mr. Franklin, I see a demotion in your future.

Youtube: On France’s Burka Ban

I have a new video up at Bookish Beemer’s YouTube channel, and this time, I make my arguments against France’s proposed ban on the niquab, burka, and other face coverings. I had to split it into two uploads, so I’m sorry for any inconvenience that might cause. The vids are after the jump!

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