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Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Justice For All" - guest blog about gay marriage, by Otep Shamaya

Otep Shamaya is an artist, a rocker, a singer, a writer, a poet, and a friend. I hope this is just the first of many guest blogs she'll share with us. She'll be reading your comments. Also, this is my open invitation to her to have a column in my magazine INTERLUDE once it's relaunched later this summer.

myspace.com/otep

To read my SuicideGirls interview with Otep, click on the pic:
Otep

And if you're unfamiliar with Otep and/or her band OT3P, check out their video for their new song "Confrontation":

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"Justice For All"

“… that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”
— Thomas Jefferson


In order to scribe this weeks entry, I have had to remove myself from any source of news or interference. I believe it’s important to have the right kind of atmosphere when writing something this important that will undoubtedly evoke the biased and hateful to turn on me. So, here I sit, on a traditional bridal bed made of dark mahogany, draped in red curtains from India, fortified behind walls of giant harem pillows. In the deep darkness of 3 a.m., candles singe the exhausted air and lighten the ethers with their soft fragrances. Twisting and rooting all around me are the limbs of three sleeping furies, lost in the universal mind, their enervated bodies radiate a rainbow of halos that pinch and pull dark visions of sweet temptation. Yes, the mood seems right. My fingers are ready to focus on stroking the keys of this powerbook (and perhaps a leg or rib or nape of the neck or two). Okay, enough. To the meat.

Here it is, a topic so vile and disruptive, so provocative and arousing, so ridiculously taboo that I expect the hate mail on this to reach mountainous proportions. So be it. The California Supreme Court recently handed down a ruling that legalized Same Sex Marriage. Many cried with absolute joy at this revelation. Others were shocked and outraged, “Dear God,” they exclaimed, “the heathens have won!” Perhaps. But which is better? Heathens or tyrants? Good question. It shall be answered thus!

Our citizenship is not defined by sexual orientation, gender, race, or religion (or lack thereof). Neither is our patriotism, our loyalty, or our love for this great republic. I am a free-thinker, I am a songwriter, a bohemian, a scoundrel, an outsider, a painter, a provocateur, a godmother, a god-damner, a daughter, a sister, an activist, a lover, a fighter, I am Sapphic, and yes, I am a proud American.

So why should the bigotry of some define the limits of my life? Why should I be subject to the archaic ideas of a Puritanical bunch of hypocrites with hate in their hearts? Now, to be clear, I have no desire to marry anyone. But, if I did (somehow, somewhere) find that special someone that sends my spirit soaring beyond the sub-stratus (fueled by all the love we can muster) and all this beauty and joy and affection just so happens to emanate from another woman, then why should I be subject to the judgment and legislation of some intolerant, thick-headed xenophobes that know nothing of me, of my lover, or how we feel about each other? I am positive that I would disapprove of the way they cowardly shimmy through life but does that mean I should be able to enact a law against being an uninformed, namby-pamby, jingoistic mook? If so, we should immediately arrest GW Bush and the Republican members of Congress on the spot, forthwith! Ah, but I digress.

The Religious Right is always bantering on about the sanctity of marriage, meanwhile, most of these douchebags are (or have) been cheating on their spouses (left and right) and the loudest opponents are usually cheating with someone of the same sex! These particular swine have shamed themselves into “the closet” and now their attraction to same sex partners has become a mutation of sexual deviancy that they can not control. I despise these mongrels. How dare they attack and condemn and legislate love when they are the creatures they pretend to protect us from.

And you know what? My disdain goes out to you celebrity folk who remain in the closet to protect your careers! Gay and lesbian teens (across America) are being attacked and sometimes killed for no other reason than being who they are, and yet, you hide away, ashamed of your own skin and heart. Meanwhile, they have no role models, no one to lead the way, no one to teach them that being themselves is okay.
They have no one to tell them that they are NORMAL! It is those that violently fear anything different that are the true freaks! These cowardly actors and rappers and singers make me sick. They are eager enough to take your money, to live their lives happy, wealthy, and in the umbrella of privacy that Hollywood can provide, and meanwhile gay and lesbian teens are under fire from all sides — mostly from their own anxieties and insecurities. Well, my friends, leave it me! I tell you here and now, if you believe in a God, and that God is perfect, then, (as my great-grandmother used to say) God don’t make no mistakes!! You are perfect and beautiful and (flawed) just the way you are. Never let anyone tell you anything different!

And to those who disapprove of this lifestyle, and denounce the union of same-sex couples based on the idea that marriage is sacred — well, why aren’t you this vocal against heterosexual couples that cheat on each other? Isn’t that soiling the sacredness of marriage? Where’s your outrage when a “straight” man molests his “straight” daughter? When he sleeps with the babysitter, when parents beat their children, where’s your outrage when they violate everything holy and good that you claim is perfect based solely on the idea of gender? Love doesn’t count, right?

Look, I know most in this category won’t be swayed by any logical argument I scribe here, but we should at least be able to agree on this: If two adults are lucky enough to find each other and fall in love in this ugly world, at this time, then may the fates bless them and grant them good fortune and many days of happiness. Besides, if the Republican way is the godly way, then why do the top tier of these hypocrites have gay and lesbian children?

Ronald Reagan’s son - GAY.
Dick Cheney’s daughter - GAY.


Aren’t these the holymen of Conservatism? Didn’t they raise their children in the heart and soul of good, old fashioned American values? Then why do they have gay children? What did they do wrong?? Jesus Joseph and Mary! Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality and has been with us since time began. Hell, even Alexander the Great, the “greatest” conqueror known to us and is studied by all of our military leaders, was bi-sexual and arguably his greatest love was shared with a man, Hephaestion.

Now, to those that rejoiced and saw this as a big win for “our” side. I ask you to take a moment and think about the bigger picture. Yes, it’s a beautiful moment for equal rights in America, but, why now? Most people don’t realize that outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco the majority of California is pretty conservative. Our governor (Ah-nold) is a republican and the California supreme court is known for its conservative nature. So why this big move? Well, forgive my cynicism, but the conspiracy sensing sector of my spirit is suspicious. Could it be that the Republicans are so afraid of losing anymore seats in Congress (they’re falling like flies) and bigger still, the Presidential elections this November, that they are hoping to ignite their base (the religious right) this way? I mean, what better way to motivate the Jesus-freaks (no insult intended) than by giving those “damned Satanic Gays” the right to marry? Because everyone knows that the Homosexual Agenda is to give everyone “The Gay”! Right? Wrong. A straight woman (a breeder, if you will) once told me, “Not everyone is gay, you know!” And I replied, “Yes, I know. And we like it that way!” This is a club that likes its exclusivity. Ye gods, it’s astounding that we are shin-deep in the 21st Century and still plagued by such invincible ignorance. But again, I digress.

They say the monkey king (GW Bush) won his second term by sparking fear in the hearts and minds of middle & southern America over the 3 G’s — God, Guns, and Gays. Their talking points were, “If you elect a Democrat, the liberals will destroy America by taking God out of our schools, Guns out of your homes, and let the Gay agenda take control.”

This is complete and utter poppycock, balderdash, bollocks, and bullshit but it worked. And now, because those cowards were so filled with intolerance, look where our nation is now? Bush and co. have run our nation to the point of fiscal, cultural, and spiritual bankruptcy. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade or piss on anyone’s moment, but I just want us to be ready for anything that the conservatives might pull. As we have seen, they will do anything (lie, cheat, steal) to stay in power. Now, I could be wrong, and I hope I am, and this could be an amazing moment in our collective history. But remember this: Now that they have reversed this ban it will be on the ballot this fall and it will most certainly be a topic in the Presidential debates, and the evangelical swamp rats will be waiting for a fight.

Let’s give it to them, with everything we have.


“We are all the same people. All of us. You are no different than I am. Our love is the same. To me, what it feels like, I will just speak for myself, it feels like when someone says, ‘You can still have a contract and you’ll still have insurance and you’ll get all that’ — it sounds like you can sit there, but you can’t sit there. That’s what is sounds like to me.

— Ellen Degeneres


Do we want to continue down this slow slide of self-destruction? Or do we wish to inch ever closer to the promised capacity of our beloved country? I say, we stand up and fight. It’s worth it.

ONWARD!
Otep Shamaya, Esq.
myspace.com/otep

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thankyou so very much for your thoughts Miz Shamaya , i live in England so i can only just imagine the outrage citizens of America are feeling .
But my best wishes are with you all.
x

Anonymous said...

I am outraged that many other states will not lift the sodomy laws even a slight inch. Being a butch female I have had more trouble with politics than the dating world, and that is so sad. I am an activist through and through and this shit has got to end. Let's hit em with our best shot girls!!!

Philip Chandler said...

I am so grateful to you for your column. I am an activist for gay rights, and maintain my own blog at http://gayequalityandthelaw.blogtownhall.com/default.aspx where I have discussed the California decision. I completely agree with you that this decision is excellent news, and that justice has been done for gay couples who wish to marry in California.

I also agree with you when you express your disdain for those celebrities who hide in the closet when they could, so easily, become role models for the young people of America. I think of two celebrities in particular, who happen to have been married to each other for ten years before divorcing and remarrying -- total sham marriages entered into for the sake of their appearances and careers, and only for those reasons...

What sickens me about the right wing forces is that they cannot keep their own marriages together for more than a few years at a time. Rep. Bob Barr (R) introduced the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" -- this thrice-married drunk's second marriage collapsed after he was photographed licking whipped cream from the breasts of a stripper at a fundraiser. Newt Gingrich served his wife with divorce papers as she lay dying of ovarian cancer in the hospital . The late Rep. Sonny Bono (R) had a lesbian daughter -- yet he voted to deny her the right to equal happiness taken for granted by heterosexuals before skiing into a tree while high on Vicodin (was he married twice, or three times? -- somebody please refresh my memory). Whose marriages were these hypocrites trying to "defend"?

I don't think that the California Supreme Court decision reflects part of a conspiracy, however. I have read the decision -- all 172 pages of it -- and it is nuanced, scholarly, extremely well-researched, and extremely well reasoned. The California Supreme Court is widely regarded as one of the most liberal and influential state supreme courts in the nation, and I cannot see a conspiracy in the decision.

By the way -- to the lesbian who left a comment about sodomy laws not being lifted -- ALL sodomy laws were declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, as applied to gay sex in private settings between consenting adults for non-commercial purposes. You cannot be prosecuted for having gay sex in the USA in the wake of that decision, so don't sweat that particular issue -- we won, big time!

Thanks for the column!


PHILIP CHANDLER

Daviana said...

i fully agree with everything mentioned here.. how can they say marriage is "holy" then constantly you hear on the news of cheating spouses and the such. you dont get to decide who you love, it just happens. i could go on and on but ill stop here hehe

Charlotte said...

Here we go again... :)Why can't they get it through their thick backward skulls that marriage is a basic civil right that should be attainable by all Americans if they choose. For those who are uncomfortable with gay marriage check out our short produced to educate & defuse the controversy. It has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue: www.OUTTAKEonline.com

lovinglezlife said...

i just graduated high school and during that last year i decided to stand up for (or lack of standing) up for what i believed in. the pledge that we are required to say every morning states that there is justice for all and i don't think there is. because i am gay i don't get the same rights as any other woman in this world, that is not fair. i refused to stand and say the pledge every morning and that made me feel better. i didn't get in trouble, but i did fight for what i believed in

Layne said...

I applaud you, Otep, very much for what you have said here. The parts involving closeted Hollywood gays and their potential to be role-models for today's anxiety-stricken LGBTQ teenagers especially hit at my core. However, this public service announcement (if you will) sounds a bit too biased and derogatory. As much as we have the right to be angry for everything that we, as Gay Americans, have had to endure, fighting fire with fire is never the swiftest method. This rant repeatedly attacks Conservatives, Straight Americans, and Religious individuals (specifically Christians). I'm sure as hell not religious, conservative, or straight but I felt that your derogatory speech towards these groups was only helping to fuel their hatred for the LGBTQ peoples of our nation. If we ever truly want to achieve harmony and acceptance than we must learn to cohabit our nation with these groups that are typically opposed to us, just as they must learn to live in harmony with their very different counterparts. I'm only fifteen and I understand the anger that you feel, mostly because I'm directly in the line of fire for my sexual orientation. However we can't, as Gandhi would say, "Shake hands with a clenched fist."

If you take the time to read this comment than thank you very much. Any response would be highly appreciated: aliaskupo@gmail.com

Philip Chandler said...

Layne -- I don't think that anybody is being "too biased and derogatory" on this message thread when discussing the behavior of the hard right. Remember that we are dealing with people who compare gay people to pedophiles, kleptomaniacs, drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill individuals, and (in one particularly ugly rant about the California Supreme Court decision) “Visigoths dancing in the ruins of Rome.” If anything, our descriptions of the so-called “Christians” who have fed lies and propaganda into the political process have been charitable and moderate. Remember that we are dealing here with people who characterize gay people as being a “threat to civilization” – for an example, refer to the speech that Sally Kern of Kentucky recently made, in which she compared gay people to cancer and stated that we were worse than terrorists (she also maligned all of Islam in her speech, equating all of Islam with the radical element that believes in flying jumbo jets into our tallest buildings and killing thousands of us at a time). Kern is not repentant for this speech – to the contrary, she has embraced it and insists that gay people are “infiltrating” town and city councils, and that we are in the process of employing the levers of power to attain evil objectives.

Remember, also, that some of these people possess real power – two examples that come to mind sit on the US Supreme Court and are named Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. In his dissent in Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, using language that was eerily reminiscent of similar writings authored by a madman during the first half of the 20th century, inveighed against the homosexual "problem" faced by the citizens of Colorado, noting that gay men and lesbians tended "to reside in disproportionate numbers in certain communities," where they possessed "political power much greater than their numbers, both locally and statewide." He expressed outrage at the "enormous influence in American media and politics" enjoyed by gay men and lesbians, and railed against the fact that gay men and lesbians "care about homosexual rights issues much more ardently than the public at large." In making these statements, Scalia essentially argued that the tendency of gay Coloradans to invoke the democratic process more readily that their heterosexual counterparts constituted a distortion of the democratic process itself. One wonders how it could have escaped Scalia's attention that, in a country where people vote their policy preferences into law under a "one man, one vote" system, members of one particular group of citizens can never possess "disproportionate" political power unless members of other groups of citizens choose to abdicate their own power. One also wonders whether Scalia would ever apply a similar analysis to the behavior of fundamentalist Christians, who certainly care about their issues (e.g., forcing mandatory school prayer down the throats of the rest of us, outlawing reproductive choice for women) "much more ardently than the public at large." Perhaps one can be forgiven for harboring some degree of cynicism towards this analysis, given the selectivity of its application and the transparency of its logic.

We must never, ever forget the fact that many of our opponents are truly evil. I do not write this lightly. In a world predicated on principles of respect for the liberty interests of others, nobody has any business attempting to deprive other people of the equal protection of the laws, or of liberty interests that they themselves enjoy, without at minimum a rational basis. When the right in question is a “fundamental” right, or when the class of persons disadvantaged by the law is considered by the courts to be “suspect,” then the burden shifts to the state (under California due process and equal protection jurisprudence) to demonstrate that its actions promote a “compelling state interest” and that these actions are “necessary” for the promotion of the state interest in question. The California Supreme Court held that the right to marry is a “fundamental” right, and that gay persons are a “suspect class” by virtue of the history of discrimination and abuse suffered by members of this group at the hands of the majority, by virtue of the political powerlessness of the group in question, by virtue of the fact that members of the group in question possess a characteristic that does not bear on the ability of members of that group to contribute to society, and by virtue of the fact that the characteristic in question is central to the identity of members of the group in question and cannot be changed absent unacceptable personal cost (other criteria also apply). Yet there are still people who believe that their religious beliefs trump constitutional guarantees of substantive fairness and equal protection. I consider such people to be evil, in every meaningful sense of the word. Using one’s religion as a shield to justify discriminatory and unfair treatment is grossly unacceptable in a free society.


PHILIP CHANDLER