Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ding-Dong, DOMA's Dead!

Yes, this is yesterday's news, but this is the first I've had a chance to sit down and write down a coherent response to SCOTUS's ruling.  Yesterday's response on my part was confined to whooping, hollering, and maybe a few tears. 

Obviously, this is great news for all same sex couples in the 12 (soon 13, after SCOTUS instructed the lower court to dismiss the Prop 8 case out of California) jurisdictions that allow marriage equality.  For people in states like Ohio, where there are constitutional bans on same sex unions, the ruling is less clear right now.  Part of the confusion lies in the distinction of how federal organizations define marriage- by place of celebration, or place of residency.  If the place of celebration is used, then federal benefits should be a very real possibility.  Hopefully, there will be some consistency brought to the definition soon, and to my (admittedly limited- so please feel free to correct me) knowledge that could be done without an act of Congress in most cases.  As if Congress was active in the first place right now. 

If the place of residence is used, then it's a harder fight, and the couple would likely have to reside in a marriage equality state. 

What really throws a wrench in the works (or has the potential to be a huge break through), is the Full Faith and Credit Clause.  Article IV, Section 1 of the US Constitution states:

"Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."
This is the fun little clause that allows you or I to have a destination wedding, or to move after we're married and have that marriage recognized.  This clause and the due process and equal protection portions of the Fourteenth amendment were the grounds that the court used to decide Loving v. Virginia.  It's important to note, however, that yesterday's decision was based on the due process clause of the Fifth amendment instead.  Also of note, to me anyway, is that while Loving and Windsor were decided on different bases, the framing and terminology were similar.  From Loving:
The Equal Protection Clause requires the consideration of whether the classifications drawn by any statute constitute an arbitrary and invidious discrimination.
and From Windsor:
DOMA’s principal effect is to identify and make unequal a subset of state-sanctioned marriages. It contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not others, of both rights and responsibilities, creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State.
While SCOTUS yesterday refused to affirm that marriage is a constitutional right by refusing to rule on Prop 8, Warren did make that claim in the Loving case that stopped miscegenation laws.  I think that's an important reality to remember.

And just for the sake of CMA, this is a thought experiment on my part, I am not a lawyer, and really, don't take legal (or any) advice from a blog.  Especially one written by me.  :)

For other, related interpretations of the possible effects of Full Faith and Credit on marriage equality, there's some good (if dated) discussions here:

National Review

Doug Linder, Law Professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School

Ivan Hoffman, JD

JP Feldmeier, 1995. Publius 25(4):107-126.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Body, My Self

This evening our little family went out for an early weekend dinner and decided to try Fresco, a new local place in Kent notable for their salsa bar.  The food was fantastic, the had good beer, my day's classes had gone well, I had new replica jaws to play with, Kenny and I picked lots of strawberries, and I'd been up to a round of "Secret Santa" around town.  I'm sure I could have been in a better mood, but I'm not sure how I would have gotten there.  We were sitting waiting at our table for our food when it happened.  There were hands at my side and a face on my shoulder, and it was not my friend the newly minted Dr. Sohom- one of the few people that I allow to creeper-hug me without a fight. 

Dear Fellow Fresco Patron-

What made you think that you could come that close up behind a stranger in a restaurant with her family?  Why did you think that it was OK to rearrange my clothing to cover a tattoo on my back?  What part of my appearance gave you any indication that I wanted to hide my tattoos or was embarrassed by them?  Why on Earth were you surprised at my reaction, which was merely an expletive directed at you and not a fist heading towards you?  Would you ever even consider doing this if I had been a man?  Do you have any idea of the moment of sheer terror I feel at a stranger's (and some not-strangers') touch?  Have you thought about how your feeling of entitlement to my body fits into the larger social picture.  Have you ever considered that not all people enjoy physical contact, and in fact some people are positively averse to it?  Have you ever thought that maybe their aversion to touch has something to do with a feeling of lack of autonomy, often thanks to people like you?  What makes you think that it's appropriate to slut-shame random women in front of their children?  Do you really have this little respect for your fellow humans? 

Do us all a favor and can the moralizing and misogyny, alright. 

Gah.  Invasion of personal space and body shaming are not things that I enjoy or take lightly, and nor should any sane person.  How is this crap even considered OK today?!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Belated Happy Fathers' Day!

Yeah, I meant to write this yesterday.  Yeah, I'm a day late.  Yep, I also sent out cards/gifts late, too (or will, when I get them out).  Yes, I am aware of how much I suck.  And yah, I'm OK with these facts.

I'm not going to lie- Fathers' Day is hard for me.  Like many people, my Dad's not here anymore.  I'm grateful for my spouse, who's a great dad to our Bug, but he's not always such a great partner to me.  Also not uncommonly, what family we do have is split across the state and farther; our older family members have less than great health and we have less than a little bit of spare time.  H3ll, Dwight even had to work on fathers' day, so there went any dinner plans. 

I'm extremely grateful for the time I had with my father.  He was an amazing person who helped shaped me into who I am to this day, and if it weren't for him I'd be even more broken than I already am.  He gave me confidence, inquisitiveness, logic and reasoning, and great hair.  Then he died and I've been trying to pick up the pieces ever since. 

I'm not the only one with this burden to bear; my sister and mother and so many more people miss him, too, but we all have our individual journey to travel in our pain.  Some of us handle pain more or less effectively, and a lot of that depends on the support we grew up with and the skills we learned as a child.  I'm immensely thankful that I received love, support, and skills from my father, but less face it, loosing a parent hurts whenever and however it happens.  I can be appreciative and sorrowful at the same time, as can any other human.  We're complex critters, humans, and extremely diverse.  Far more so than some quips in the card aisle or cliched neckties and cookouts would imply. 

No matter how you recognized the day, and no matter how you nurture the next generation, thank you for all you do, dads everywhere.  You make differences left and right, so make the best of those differences.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

First Grade Reflection

School wrapped up for Kenny this past week.  He's been on summer break for two days now, and starts camp up on Monday, which is good because I take on another teaching assignment on Monday. 

I have to say, the kiddo had a good year.  Ended up with all "E"s (for excellent, not the alternative to an "F") and is reading above grade level.  He happily repeats that last point to try and get out of reading if he thinks he has better things to do.  He's seen an exceptional amount of growth academically and developmentally this year, with a lot of thanks going to the amount of support he has had from his amazing teachers and others who have worked with him.  I can teach biology, and Dwight can do history, but there's no way that the two of us could handle teaching reading and the social skills that Kenny has mastered this year.  It's just not our forte.  It's this ability to supplement my own failings, and my recognition of those failings, that make me so grateful for our school and neighborhood. 

I know it's cliche, but it takes a village to raise a child.  It takes a village to do a lot of things well.  No person can be everything that is needed or has all the necessary skills for complex tasks, and raising and educating a child is most definitely a complex task.  Also a complex task- juggling two adults with jobs and studies with a school schedule straight out of the nineteenth century.  So for the summer, I'm just as thankful for the Kent Parks and Recreation for their dedication to providing programming over the summer (and surround care during the school year) that make the summer break so much more enjoyable for our family.

I know, I know, we wouldn't have to rely on others if one of us would stay home.  But that's not what works for us, and really, who can afford to do that today?  Not us, that's for sure.  Kudos to those of you who can, you're stronger than I am.  We could use family, except we don't have extended family near us, and our families have their own lives to live.  Dwight and I have moved on from our home towns, as have our parents and siblings; "leaving the nest" wasn't really necessary for us since the nest left, too.  At this point, like many people today, we rely on our community more than our family, because we have dispersed families and a close knit community. 

As time passes, people grow and change.  The little boy that entered first grade last August is not the same child that's sitting and reading on the couch right now.  The society we are now is not the same as it was when public school first became an option.  We have to adjust to those changes culturally the same as I have to adjust to new parenting demands for my child, hopefully by improving and doing our best to fulfill new needs.