Tag Archives: Equality

Virginia, soon to be for ALL LOVERS, and not just the selected few!

When I woke up this morning I was struck with excitement.  It’s an excitement that I use to feel back when I was studying political science in undergrad at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).  It’s an excitement I get every time I realize how great of a country we live in.

We have our faults in America, but we also have a system of government, while frustrating, that is structured in a way that is intended to protect the basic civil and human rights of all citizens.  Our government, its officials and guiding principles are there to make sure no population, whether gay, straight, black, white, Muslim, Christian or otherwise are marginalized and treated as a lessor human-being than all other American Citizens.

Back in 2006 when I was finally old enough to vote in the United States I got to vote against the Marshall-Newman Amendment, a constitutional amendment that excludes same-sex couples from marriage and prohibits same-sex couples from attaining any other form of legal family status.  The amendment passed and I felt rejected by the very state I called my home.

Virginia, a state that has the slogan, Virginia is for Lovers decided to deny love between two people simply based on their sexual orientation.  Virginia was no longer for lovers no matter what the state wanted to project.

I moved away in 2007 and swore to never look back.  I wanted to live where I was accepted. I wanted my tax dollars to go to a state that valued my citizenship.  I wanted any revenue from a future wedding I may have to go to support local businesses in states that support same-sex couples and our basic civil right to marry the partner we love.

Now, years later, my heart is starting to race with excitement. The political process has played out.  While a majority in the state, back in 2006, were bullying the minority into accepting their religious views against same-sex marriage as our reality by using our voting system as a method of intimidation, the state is firing back by ruling against the ban.

This day, July 28th, will be a day I will never forget.  The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in my home of Richmond, VA ruled in favor of same-sex couples’ freedom to marry upholding the previous marriage ruling that came out of Virginia in February.  

Soon, LGBT individuals in the state of Virginia will see their civil rights realized, but even more importantly we will now be equal to the other citizens of our state. No longer will we be told we are not good enough to be recognized for our love. No longer will we be told that a straight couples love for one another is any more or less valid than ours.

What makes me more excited, if LGBT couples are allowed to marry in Virginia I will no longer have to worry about hospital visitation issues if I am ever sick and in Virginia.  Hospitals in the state currently have the right to deny same-sex partners from visiting loved ones in the hospital due to family only rules.

According to Freedom to Marry’s website:

The decision is not effective immediately. Buzzfeed‘s Chris Geidner explains, “According to the court’s judgment in the case, the judgment will take effect after the mandate is issued in the case. The mandate, under the court’s rules, will be issued ‘7 days after expiration of the time to file a petition for rehearing expires, or 7 days after entry of an order denying a timely petition for panel rehearing, rehearing en banc, or motion for stay of mandate, whichever is later.’

Here are just a few of the social media photos that made my morning a bit brighter.

 

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A photo compliments of Southerners for the Freedom to Marry
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Photo credit: Freedom to Marry
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Photo Credit: Equality NC
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Photo Credit: Human Rights Campaign #MarriageMomentum #Virginia

 

Why are you so interested in everything politics?

Why are you so interested in everything politics?

Why am I so obsessed with politics?   This is a question I get asked often.  Many people prefer not discussing political topics when in social or family situations.  I am not one of those people.  Politics fascinate me.  I don’t care if someone disagrees with me, but I like to hear their logic on a subject (particularly when we disagree) and to hear why the define their political ideology the way they do.  I find that, in my opinion, a lot of people label themselves as something but really have no clue what the label really means.  Politics is an addictive drug for me and this is the story of how I got hooked.

When I was a freshman in high school I lived a very sheltered life.  If a specific topic wasn’t something I needed to know to get through the day I probably didn’t know much about it, whatever “it” may have been.  That’s why I was floored when I first came out of the closet and didn’t receive the exact response I had anticipated and hoped for.  Don’t get my wrong, now everyone in my family is 100% supportive of my being an out and proud gay man.  With that said, I know it came as a bit of a blow when I did announce I was gay, especially at such a young age.

That’s when I felt as if I was forced to truly listen to what defines a conservative and/or Republican versus a liberal and/or Democrat.

It was late in the afternoon and I was sitting in the passenger seat of my sisters silver Chevy Cavalier.  It was parked in the back of a parking lot outside of a Starbucks away from all the other cars in the lot.  My sister said one thing to me after I retold the experience I had of coming out to family, “you came out to everyone? Are… you… crazy?  Do you know how Republican our family is?”

Up until that comment the extent of my understanding of what the label Republican meant was that Republicans always say they are better with money than Democrats and that we just didn’t like democrats.  Other than that I hadn’t had much exposure either way.

I wanted to change  my lack of knowledge on the topic almost immediately after that conversation.  I was so shocked by the delayed acceptance I received from different people in my life that I had to understand why I wasn’t accepted.  Being that the only reason I was given for not being fully accepted was that I was surrounded by republicans, I set off on a quest to understand political ideology, political platforms, political parties and really everything politics.

That night, after the passing commentary from my sister, I immediately started to investigate what defined a republican versus a democrat and I was a bit taken back by what I learned.  I learned a lot at the introduction of my education on politics, but it still took until my freshman year of college to completely announce I was a democrat.  None-the-less the process was started by my coming out and my obsession with politics was started by coming out of the closet.

Over the next few years I learned a bit more each day about the topic, and frankly I still learn a bit more each day, that republicans do in fact suck, especially when it comes to the LGBT equality issues. (Please don’t get mad, not all republicans suck, this is a generalization of the stereotype)

Republicans, and this is more of a generalization, want the government to back off on issues that should be handled privately.  They want less taxes, less deficit, and less regulations and oversight on business.  They want welfare programs to be handled more by religious affiliated groups and charitable organizations as oppose to government welfare systems.  They want small government.  They want their guns.  They want less government intrusion.

That is, less government intrusions on things that are important to their lives, but they want full regulations on all things they view their religion may dictate.

They seem to think the government should have no involvement in healthcare.  That should stay privatized, at least health insurance should.  Yet, they have no problem suggesting that the government regulate abortion clinics, which when looked at logically is actually a clinic promoting women’s healthcare.

Republicans are against estate taxes.  They seem to question why the government should have control over a family matter, yet republicans want the government to get involved in marriage.  Marriage is just as much of a family issues as death.  You can argue that estate taxes is a financial issue, but marriage is as well, in part.  A part of marriage is merging bank accounts, assets, property, etc.  Hence why we have prenuptial agreements.

I also learned that on the fiscal topic republicans still can’t get their head wrapped around their stances to make a logical argument of substance.  They want to cut taxes and decrease the deficit.  Tell me team Romney, how the heck do you plan to pay down the deficit if you cut the country’s income?  Cutting spending will help, but isn’t the end all solution.  We have a load of bills to pay and cutting spending won’t end the deficit.  (Just a suggestion, but maybe Republican’s should call the Clintons for a lesson on economics.  President Clinton did get rid of the deficit and leave a nice economic green light for Bush to ruin.)

Every argument I heard from Republican’s seemed to be so empty, hypocritical and lacking in overall logic.  While I started learning all things politics I realized just how fascinating it all really is.  Politics is life.  Politics is religion. Politics is just freaking entertaining.

I immediately became obsessed after soaking in some of these basic issues, stances and missing puzzle pieces.  I think went to college and my major was all but decided for me by my obsession.  I went straight into political science.  Can I just say one thing?  I miss college!  Being immersed in everything political was a poli sci geeks wet dream.

In one class, US Congress, we learned all about the senate and house of representatives.  Part of the final project was to run a faux campaign for a congressman.  Define the candidates issues clearly and logically.  Write the candidates speeches.  Show that you can win over the constituents.

In the end of the educational period of my life I realized that politics is and will always be a part of life.  I find it highly important for people to be involved in the political realm and to participate to the fullest extent possible.   I feel like politics is just as much a part of who I am as running is!  Narrowing down my obsession to one or two topics is nearly impossible.  I feel like a kid at a candy store when any political issues is broached.  I love soaking in as much information as possible from every side of the aisle.

How could you not like politics?

Dear Mr. President by Pink

Pride and Tragedy – It’s time for all to get involved

Pride and Tragedy – It’s time for all to get involved (song of the day – True Colors by Cyndi Lauper)

For days I wanted to write about the different things I experienced over Pride weekend here in NYC, and I may still write something separate about all I got to take part in, but for now my mind is on one thing and one thing only.  That thing is equality and acceptance.

Every time I read a story about Mollie Judith Olgin and Christine Chapa, a teen lesbian couple who were both shot and left for dead this past weekend in Portland, Texas, my heart breaks.  This past weekend I was spinning around NYC having an amazing time.  Without a care in the world, I was celebrating life.  I spent the weekend dancing with my friends on a boat cruising around Manhattan, dancing the night away in the east village, marching in the gay pride parade with Swish, and standing on a rooftop in midtown looking out across the city at the Empire State Building which was illuminated in rainbow colors celebrating the LGBT community.  During each of these activities I was surrounded by people who truly cared about me whether I have known them for years or just hours.

All the while these two girls living in a much different part of the United States were living a horror that I can’t even imagine.  That horror was then followed by their families having to live with the horrific aftermath.  My heart and soul goes out to their families and friends.

I’m lucky to be living in New York City.  It’s not the perfect place in the world, but I take for granted the acceptance and tolerance the LGBT community can and does receive here.  The ignorance and hate that caused someone to take such horrific actions on this beautiful and young couple is exactly why I Swish.

What do I mean by, “Why I Swish”?  Swish is a gay-straight alliance that brings together all communities in an effort to support the LGBT rights movement.  This group brings gay and straight men and women to one thought process, that all men and women are created equally and that it takes all of us working together to further that thought process and battle ignorance.

In their mission statement they say, “changing laws is critical, but so is changing hearts and minds”.  That statement says it all.  And the tragic events that took place on Friday, June 22nd, 2012 in a park way out in Portland, Texas  shows us that it is more important than ever for people of all sexual orientations, genders, races, religions or what-have-you to pull together to fight for LGBT rights, to fight discrimination and fighting ignorance.

I find it ironic that this tragedy happened to these girls this past Friday.  While they were experiencing a horror beyond belief, I was on this boat with a group of my friends, while a lot of the people were dancing to the music that was pumping all around us, I was standing stunned by the Empire State Building and the colors shining at the top of it.  The main thought that swished through my head was that I have come a long way in my life.

Discrimination isn’t something I had to experience head on, definitely not to the extent these girls had to, but I was an out gay boy living in Virginia.  It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t by any means horrific.  In actuality I was blessed with a family that did everything in their power to understand me and to accept me for who I am.  The community in Northern Virginia was also very accepting.  I still remember my step-fathers words to me when I was standing in the living room crying one afternoon.  I felt unaccepted, empty and alone.  He just sat back on the couch calm and collected and said, “I don’t care if you are gay.  You’re my son and I will love you no matter what.”

I swish so I can be part of a group that helps other parents, family members, friends, neighbors and community members understand and accept the people in their lives who are part of the LGBT community.  I dream of a day that all LGBT youth (and adults) receive support like I did from my family.  We are all people and we all deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion.  Whether or not you are religious, it is my belief that we were all created equally.

To learn about Swish visit their website at http://www.swishpride.org

I read an article today on RH Reality Check that made a great point, people need to respond to this tragedy and let the world know this is not okay, but didn’t offer suggestions as to how people can get involved.  Supporting and joining organizations like Swish is a perfect way to take a stand for equal rights for the LGBT community.  Let everyone stand tall and share their true colors.  Whether you are gay, straight, bi-sexual, lesbian, transgendered or anything else I urge you to take a stand for equality.  True equality means we all are standing together.

Disclaimer – All views and opinions in this posting are those of Bobby Argabrite and do not represent the views of any organization written about or that Bobby Argabrite may be affiliated with.  

I feel strongly that everyone should sign this petition. The Boy Scouts of America have discriminated against homosexuals since it was founded. It is time they step out of the stone ages and into 2012 and show that being day doesn’t make you any lower of a human being than anyone else.  With that said I also urge all members of the boy scouts to dropout. Join a different, more inclusive group. If one doesn’t exist then form one. Make up your own bylaws that don’t discriminate against anyone for any reason (race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, etc.).  About the petition: My name is Jennifer Tyrrell. I am a devoted partner, mother, friend and community leader in Bridgeport, Ohio. I’m also a former Tiger Cub den leader with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). I was recently removed from this volunteer position, and my membership was revoked after nearly a year of service – just because I happen to be gay. Shortly after registering my son for Cub Scouts, I was asked to assume the role of den leader and was persuaded by a platform of tolerance, acceptance and support. Throughout the year, my cubs performed volunteer service at a local soup kitchen, collected canned goods for area churches to distribute in food baskets, participated in bell-ringing for the Salvation Army, and, at the time of my removal, were working on a conservation project for a state park. My Tiger Cubs earned multiple Scout badges for service and skills, while learning and exercising the 12 Core Values of Scouting: citizenship, compassion, cooperation, courage, faith, health & fitness, honesty, perseverance, positive attitude, resourcefulness, respect, and responsibility. The revocation of my membership came shortly after I was elected treasurer of my pack and uncovered some inconsistencies in the pack’s finances. Within a week of reporting these findings to the council, I received notice that my membership had been revoked, based on my sexual orientation, citing that because I’m gay, I did “not meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks.”There was an outcry of support for me by the parents of my Tiger Scouts, many of whom waited for hours to voice their concerns to members of the council and the pack’s charter organization, but were turned away without the opportunity to do so.It is time for the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider its policy of exclusivity against gay youth and leaders. Please sign this petition to call for an end of discrimination in an organization that is shaping the future.As more individuals become aware of the discrimination I’ve been dealing with, it is my hope that these incidents will happen less frequently — if at all.Please join me and take a stand.NOTE: I encourage everyone to join this campaign, but If you’re a past or current member of the Boy Scouts of America, please say so in the “Why People Are Signing” section. Thanks!

Boy Scouts of America: Reinstate Cub Scout leader, Jennifer Tyrrell, who was removed for being gay