DOMA: The fight is not over yet.

I’m late getting this posted, but am so pleased to have Katherine back with another great guest post! Katherine previously shared “My Love Matters” with us. If you haven’t read that, please do, and visit Katherine at her blog, A Collection of Lights.

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For weeks I have been a little anxious. Dreams about something specific – some happy, some awful – have plagued me. On Wednesday morning, when I woke up, I immediately pulled my laptop into bed and began scouring the webpage that was already open.

It’s an interesting morning when your right to marry (i.e. right to be treated as a legitimate human being) is being decided.

I live with my partner, Marisa, and I don’t know that I could be happier. I want to be married to her. I want our love to be worth something to the country – and world – we call home. I was overjoyed when I learned that DOMA and Prop 8 were overturned. This is a huge step! One of many, to be sure, but a step all the same.

As the day progressed, however, my thoughts grew darker. In my Sexual Behaviors class, the professor knew nothing of the Supreme Court’s actions as he lectured on – who would have guessed? – gay people. I am a quiet individual, but I could not help but find the courage to point out the stride made that morning. When I learned that he had “no idea” the cases were even to be decided, I waited a few minutes and walked out, fuming. Look, the guy is straight, white, and has two kids. He just came back from a vacation during which he acquired the stomach flu. While I am more than willing to give him some leeway, his apathy toward my goddamn rights infuriates me.

This, combined with the fresh realization of how virulent opposers of queers can get, soured the brightness I felt somewhat. My right to be treated the same as any other human being has nothing to do with religion. Marriage is not the whole point. Marriage is not about religion, either. I’m an atheist, too, and it isn’t any concern of yours.  Frankly, my sexuality is none of your goddamn business. While it may chafe at my delicate fucking sensibilities, it does not matter to me what you think of who or how I love. My sexuality does not make me abnormal. Sexuality is anything but black and white. Who one has sex with does not dictate sexuality, necessarily! Were this about sex, I am not certain I would feel the desire to be in a relationship at all. Hell, the definition of sex is murky enough as it is (though lesbian sex certainly is sex, fuckers). The rhetoric surrounding sex and marriage in this country is awful and largely without scientific merit.

In simpler terms: if you would like to talk to me about gay people and/or marriage equality, I am more than happy to do that… as long as you are kind and don’t pull facts out of your ass.

I do want to be clear that I am not totally bitter. Being queer is a new challenge each day, but I would not trade the perspective it has given me or the contentment I feel with the self-knowledge I have now. I am going to keep on walking, and I am going to hold the hand of the person I love tightly, and I am going to believe that we can push through the difficulties we are facing. I am going to appreciate the fact that those around me are also fighting for the rights of those discriminated against. Despite the anger I express here, I feel extremely lucky to be where I am today. I am proud that we have come this far.

The fight is not over yet.

ICWA, Revisited

Hi, everyone. I have some housekeeping notes before we jump back into the world of feminist blogging. I’m interested in dialogue. I really like to know why we form our beliefs and convictions. I would like to hear about opposing opinions. But throughout the duration of this blog, there has only been one comment that successfully conveyed an opposing viewpoint while following the rules of the blog. I won’t post comments that are vitriolic or accusatory in nature. I know the cloak of internet anonymity brings out the worst in people, but I truly believe we are better than that. Please review the rules before you comment. The comment feature will be suspended if these rules aren’t followed. I think that would be unfortunate, but I’m not willing to continue subjecting myself to thoughtless, violent attacks.

Now, let’s follow-up on the last post. I can’t believe how many white people were severely offended by that. Once again, I’d just like to mention that acknowledging privilege doesn’t erase it. I will never understand why so many people fly off the handle when they’re told about the ways they’re advantaged. When we start feeling self-righteous about our position in the world, when we feel accomplished even though we were born on top of the mountain and didn’t have to do any climbing, I think it’s important to seek out information from folks without the same privileges. After the last post, Jacqueline Keeler shared her wonderful piece on ICWA with me. I hope all of you read it- suspend the privilege rage fits and really read it.

Finally, here’s my response to a Facebook commenter who was very displeased with my post. Most of the comments I received (none of which were posted due to their reliance on inappropriate threats and violence) echoed the sentiments this commenter expressed.

And clearly the color of the skin shows that a person is responsible for a complete history of wrong. And clearly a white person could never, ever ever seek out resources to help a child of a different culture connect to their past. Incredibly over simplified account of a not simple situation, in any aspect. This isn’t about race, this case is about stupid legal red tape. It’s horrible and sad that this is going on, but the fact of the matter is that these events are happening because some individuals are taking advantage of legal loop holes. “I hate white people. I really do.” That is not an attitude that will further any kind of progress. It is just sad, spite and narrow-minded.

As a result of generations of Native children being removed from their communities, against the wishes of the community, ICWA was passed to bring stability and security to tribal families. Under ICWA, when a child is being placed, priority lies with the family. If the child cannot be placed with a member of their extended family, then a member of the same tribe is sought. If no member of their tribe can take the child, then the child is placed with any American Indian. Finally, if there are no Native families to take the child, then and only then should the child be placed outside of their culture. If this procedure is followed and the child does end up with a non-Native family, okay. I’m sure that family will love and care for the child. The problem is that the procedure laid out by ICWA is very rarely followed. We see that Native children are often immediately placed outside of tribal governance. This is such a huge problem that the tribes of South Dakota organized a summit with the US government to address the lack of ICWA compliance. The US Government failed to attend. (http://www.npr.org/2013/02/06/171310945/south-dakota-tribes-accuse-state-of-violating-indian-welfare-act) When Veronica’s mother moved for adoption and her father expressed a desire to raise the child, that’s where the story should have ended. Instead, the father, extended family, and tribal members were completely disregarded and the child was immediately placed with a non-Native family. The SCOTUS acknowledges this was wrong, but voted in favor of the non-Native family simply because they don’t like ICWA. This sets a precedent that justifies and encourages the removal of Native children from the families who want to raise them, which hearkens directly back to the American Indian Boarding Schools.

When I say I hate white people, I don’t mean that I actively hate every single white person no more than I hate every banker or lawyer when I say I hate bankers and lawyers. I hate the idea of bankers, lawyers, and white people. I am a white person, and I’m not much for self-loathing. What I hate is that we, collectively, use our privilege to continue the marginalization and oppression of people we have only ever marginalized and oppressed. Acknowledging that my whiteness gives me privileges won’t take those privileges away. Recognizing that we historically and currently, if sometimes unintentionally, harm people by the very nature of our whiteness is the very least we can do to begin righting these wrongs. When I see a campaign called “Save Veronica”, a campaign that has hundreds of thousands of backers, I know that we’re, as a collective group of white people, acting in a racist manner. Implying that Veronica needs to be “saved” from the father who loves her and wants to raise her is wrong. While I personally don’t support this campaign, as a white person, I am complicit in this collective racism.

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That’s it for now, everyone. What I hope we can think about is just why it is that we’re so quick to say, “It’s not about race!!” What would it mean for us, especially as white people, to acknowledge that a lot of things ARE about race. What would it look like if we tried to recognize the ways we’re advantaged and tried to dismantle some of this country’s systemic white dominance?