zondag, november 07, 2004

What are they thinking in Kansas?

Enough about Europe for a few minutes... Now this from a list serve that keeps its finger on the pulse of Kansas.

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Everyone I know here is very freaked out about the election, but I haven’t heard much from gay folk in the Kansas. What IS going on? Is no one nervous yet?

Scott
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I think most GLBT folks are trying to recover from the shock of the Marriage Amendments passing in all 11 states. I heard that Louisiana's amendment has been ruled unconstitutional by their supreme court, so maybe there will be an effort to do the same in the states in which they passed. I was really surprised by Oregon. I thought we would be successful there.

My cousin sent me an email this morning saying that 55,000 applications have been received by Canada (95% of which were form US citizens) seeking immigration permits this past week. I know that is what I intend to do. I am even willing to marry a woman, if it means I could get EU citizenship. I plan on putting my house on the market shortly and get ready to divest myself of a lot of the material possessions I have. Then head back to Europe and start life anew. I have no intention of returning to the US to live ever again.

Christopher
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Thanks for the article, Christopher. My situation was a little different from the one you're facing. When Ian and I decided it was time to live together, we looked at both countries. We decided to live here (not the US) based on the ease with which we can live as a couple here. If I were single, I don't know if I would have left the U.S. Although I had to fight, I think I was too comfortable to escape the inertia on my own.

Anyway, while surfing for info about what's going on in the U.S., I ran across some links that might interest you and others. Here's one to "Electing to leave: A reader’s guide to expatriating..." , Originally from Harper's Magazine, October 2004.
Electing to Leave (Harpers.org)

And although I don't endorse this next option, it appears that this is maybe a way around the problems posed above for those who really want to leave the U.S. . .
Marry An American - Homepage - No good American will be left behind!

The immigration process to The Netherlands has not been free of stress, but now that it's done and I'm a legal resident I've got to say that it was not that bad. I can say, through personal experience, that if you happen to fall in love with an EU citizen who resides in The Netherlands, you should be able to obtain resident status through theirs, regardless of the gender of either party.

Scott
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I don't have a problem with those people who chose to leave the United States; everyone must make their own choices and do what they believe is best for themselves and their families, but I would like to express my own opinion, which is contrary.

The United States is MY country. I love the principles on which she was founded, and the highest principles that she has sadly failed to live up to lately. But I will believe in her and defend her. I will not be run out of my home by anyone, and I will continue to speak out and resist and stand up for my rights by all peaceful means as long as those means are still available, and if necessary by other means should we continue to descend to such a horrifying point. I would rather be in the resistance then be a refugee.

I know not everyone feels this way, but since we are discussing various reactions to Tuesday's events, I wanted to share my own.

Be kind to yourselves, everyone...

-Mike
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Hi Scott and All,

I can't speak for all of Kansas, but here in Lawrence, we are a pretty sad group. Based on what was said at our women's First Friday potluck as well as the First Thursday NetworQ meeting, people are in shock that SO MANY folks voted for Bush. Everyone seems to be struggling for a way to reconcile what actually happened with the fact that we must move on. What can we tell ourselves or think that will help us feel better? Saying that 4 years isn't THAT long doesn't seem to help. Given this administration, 4 more years of Bush will take years to correct.

On a good note, Douglas County (Lawrence) and Wyandotte counties went for Kerry. Here in Lawrence, every Republican got the boot on the local level. Only one Republican got voted into the House. And of course, we voted in Dennis Moore, the lone Democrat to the Congress.

Another thing I've noticed is that people are either jubilant that Bush won or extremely depressed that Kerry lost. So, it doesn't seem like you see a lot of Democrats and Republicans talking to each other about the election, especially if they want to maintain the friendship.

I have decided not to watch the news or listen to NPR until Monday. I decided I couldn't bear the thoughts of seeing Bush's smug look or hearing people talk about a "win for morality" (that turns my stomach).

My brother read that, since the election, immigration inquiries to Canada have tripled. I guess we are not alone . . .

Whatever we are feeling now, we need to channel it into something useful. In particular, we need to be ready to take on the anti-gay legislation when it hits in January. We need to educate people and we need to think of some thoughtful ads to put into the newspaper (in my opinion). At the very least, we should continue to read Letters to the Editor in our local newspapers and respond to anti-gay letters. We need to figure out a thoughtful way to frame certain issues so that these people will understand what we are trying to say.

How to do this is beyond me right now because I am so filled with despair. But, when I think that the entire state of Kansas might be given the opportunity to vote on whether or not my partner and I can enjoy basic civil rights, I get angry. I don't know about you all, but I have a high regard for myself and I feel like I contribute more to Kansas than probably 98% of the Kansans who live here. How dare these people subject my relationship with my partner to a vote that amounts to little more than a popularity contest? HOW DARE THEY?

If this really really really pisses you off, then I suspect you are in good company. Let's get louder and speak with intelligence while we do it. Let's also get our straight friends and compassionate clergy to help us. Let's network and inform. Let's try not to bicker amongst ourselves.

Stay in touch,

deb
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Deb, thanks for the comments. It helps me understand. I think my despair and anger would probably echo yours if I were there. My anger is still alive, but my daily despair is not so much an issue here. It helps being surrounded by people who care as much about who I sleep with as they do the color of my shirt. Ultimately, I think your approach is one that will work.

Mike, my first waking thoughts this morning, before I read Deb's post, were about the one you sent. I appreciate it, and have frequently mirrored your position throughout my life. I know that you have fought, and I appreciate that you have the strength and will to continue. And I most humbly thank you for your courage.

When I was deciding whether to leave the country, MY country, I had quite a few conversations with myself. I also frequently talked with others whose opinions I have respected throughout my life. At first, it all seemed to boil down to this ethical dilemma: Do we have a responsibility to fight our entire lives or, if the opportunity presents itself, is there a time when we can rest and enjoy this life?

I agree with Christopher, that we seemed to have entered into an era eerily reminiscent of Reagan and 1980. A bit worse, even. Back then (and before) I was in Northern California. And fighting. Then I moved to Kansas. And fought. The difference between the fights was that in California it seemed as though everyone I knew fought together, and the enemy was Anita Bryant and those like her who tried to convince others we were immoral, which made us sub-human and therefore not worthy of basic human rights. In Kansas, on the other hand, it seemed as though most of the activists I know fought alone and "activists" were not embraced by the lesbian/gay community. Far from it, they were seen as the enemy that brought on the wrath religious right.

So I think there are really two important fights going on. And the one that is arguably more important is the one that is going on within our own community. Until we heal ourselves, how can we heal our tormenters? But how can we heal ourselves when we are being tormented? It's a vicious circle I was never able to cut through.

But back to the point of this post. I can't speak for any of the many others who have either moved or backed out of the fights, both public and private, but at what point does one finally have the right to just . . . leave? Does one ever have that right? Is it a right? Some corollary questions I asked myself were: Why did our ancestors move to the US? Why did they not stay in the countries that (I assume) made moving across an ocean seem better than staying where they were? Should they have stayed where they were? Did they have a moral obligation to stay where they were simply because it's where they were? Do, or should, their actions, mistakes and/or successes influence mine?

Along with that train of thought, factor that, as with most of you still there and still fighting, I received death threats in the mail and by phone right up until the week I moved. And as with most of you, they had gone on sol long that I did not think much about them. After all, no one ever killed me. Hell, I never even got beat up. Still, the threat was there. (As I'm writing this, I suddenly realize that for the first time in over 20 years, I am no longer being threatened. And I've got to say that although I didn't think about them much while I was there, I don't miss the threats one little bit.)

Anyway, I went round and round with all of that. And I still don't know the answer to the dilemma, and I mostly agree with Mike that everyone must do for themselves what they think is right. For me, I don't think anyone in this day and age should have to die or live in fear of death when there is another option available. So that influenced my decision. But more, I strongly believe that that two people in love deserve an environment that respects love. I didn't want Ian to have to deal with people who hate him and might have hurt him simply because he loved me. In the end, that was what Kansas had to offer us, and once I figured that our, it solved the ethical dilemma for me.

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