This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings

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A letter to the other Trump supporters

Let me just tell you a few things I’m NOT saying. I’m NOT saying that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, sexist, xenophobe, homophobe, or any other kind of phobe/ist (though, many of you are saying you aren’t and just saying it doesn’t make it so). I’m NOT saying that everyone who voted for Trump is a threat to the safety of any American. I’m NOT saying that Hillary was my first choice for president. If you continue reading and you come away believing I’ve said any of that, you are simply wrong and you have not really listened.

That said, there are a few things I want to say that I’m not seeing in the social media conversation. First, I want to validate the fear of my LGBTQ+ friends, parents raising LGBTQ+ kids, minority friends, parents of minorities, and anyone else who feels afraid today. We aren’t afraid of all the Trump supporters. That’s ridiculous. If you aren’t a threat, you don’t need to say it every time someone posts their fear. If you feel the need to show that you aren’t a threat, GREAT. One simple thing you can do to show it is to wear a safety pin. If you don’t know what I’m talking about with the safety pin, here’s some resources from Huffington Post and The New York Daily News.

So what are we afraid of? That tiny percentage of Americans who are simply horrible. We’re afraid of a tiny percentage who think that Donald Trump’s words (and words ARE important) about Muslims, gays, special needs people, women, and immigrants were not just okay, but great. There are Americans who think it’s not just okay to beat up that effeminate middle schooler, but needs to be done. There are Americans who think that those who have less muscular control of their arms or legs should be made fun of. There are Americans who have long wanted to be able to openly call out those with different ethnic backgrounds in their neighborhoods and schools, to harass them until they feel unsafe and leave, to run them off. If my description of these Americans disgusts you, than you might not be one of them. Chances are NONE of you reading this is one of them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Not only do they exist, but they have been empowered, emboldened, and ENDORSED. It may not have been your intention when you voted for him, but it is the result nonetheless.

So all those people who feel fear are absolutely justified in feeling that fear. If you still disagree with me about that one fact, you are probably one of the few still denying that white privilege exists, and frankly, I’m not sure that our discussion can go much further. We’re speaking different languages and since that is such a basic tenet of my beliefs about this country,  I’m hard pressed to find common ground. We can certainly disagree about how much of a problem it is, how to fix it, even how it came about, but surely you can agree that it exists.

There are dozens of reports today, and over the last few days, about why that fear is justified. There are middle schoolers chanting hateful things at ethnic minorities, graffiti with obvious hate messages, people beat up for appearing to belong to the LGBTQ+ community, women harassed on public transportation. Is there an actual increase in these incidents, or is it just being reported on more often? I don’t know, and really it doesn’t matter. It’s happening. The fear IS justified.

I’m not going to hash out the issues that made me choose to vote for Clinton over Trump. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to assume that most of you who voted for Trump made your decision carefully, perhaps prayerfully, and simply chose different legitimate priorities. Clearly we disagree, but Trump has won the election fair and square, so we have to move from there. I consider America’s endorsement of Trump to be a challenge, and I am up to it. I have the beginnings of a plan. Would you like to know what it is? I  bet we can find common ground there.

wp-1478965011446.jpgFirst, I’m going to show all the love I can. On Wednesday morning, when my children were sad and disappointed, I instructed each one of them to dig deep within themselves and find all the extra kindness and love they could muster and show it to everyone they came across. I want us all to double our efforts in that area every single day. If hate and fear have been endorsed and even ONE person feels more comfortable spreading that, than I want to be part of those who will smother that hate everywhere it springs up. The news will cover the hate faster than the love, so we’ll have to patient and steady and back each other up with that love, but I want to be part of that movement. I’ll wear a safety pin every day as an outward sign. I will continue to teach my children that this is the most important thing they can do, and that God demands it of us.


Second, I will try to hear the rest of you. You Trump supporters who are angry at the liberal reaction to this election, if you can express your feelings without anger, I want to hear why you chose him. I will try to squash my own confirmation bias and read even-handed pieces from reliable, authoritative, non-biased sources about the issues you find most important. I have several articles in the queue already, and Hillbilly Elegy is already ordered and on its way to me. I will engage in rational discussion with anyone who is willing about which issues should be most important, how they should be handled, and what the consequences might be of those solutions.

Lastly, I will not endorse or be part of protests that involve shouting “Not my president.” I will not threaten to move to Canada. I will not feed the hatred of “the other side.” I will give Trump the respect of the office he was legitimately elected to. I will likely disagree with MANY of the decisions he will make as president, but I will find productive ways to express that. I will maintain my faith in the democratic system, and work harder within it to effect the change I believe in.





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Congrats, South Carolina!

Marriage equality comes to South Carolina! Though I didn’t keep up with many of them, I knew quite a few LGBT folks in college in South Carolina. Those who stayed there can now experience all the rights and joys of marriage in their home state. I’m so glad for them, though a little sad that Ohio seems so far away from this milestone.

So, it turns out this guy who went to my college is one of the first South Carolinians to get a marriage license with his same-sex partner. They’ve been interviewed on several media outlets and gotten a good bit of coverage. Lots of folks have posted on his Facebook page sharing support, and I joined them. I truly hope they are happy, though I also wish it was no bigger deal than any other marriage of an old college acquaintance. It is a big deal, though! It’s a really big deal. Here’s these two men who have been sharing their lives for 20 years and FINALLY they get to make easy legal arrangements for each other’s financial security in the event that one of them should die. FINALLY they can share insurance plans, assume next of kin, and just call each other “husband.”

Watching one of the interviews I had to giggle, though. My college acquaintance and his partner and another couple, two women, were featured. They are so sweet and unassuming. They are clearly thrilled to have these new rights and watching them, their happiness is obvious. But they are not the activists who were the first to marry in the Northeast or on the West Coast. They are clear that they aren’t trying to change anyone’s feelings about them. They don’t care what anyone else feels about their union, their lives, their sexual preferences. They have the rights they should have and beyond that, they are uninterested in changing anyone’s minds about anything. It made me smile. It made me even more happy for these couples. They’re just like any other couple getting married. Just as they should be, they’re focused on themselves, their own lives, their future.

Congratualtions, South Carolina. I’m proud of the state where I came of age. Now if my own home state would just catch up!

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Just a note…

I couldn’t let a day pass without posting just simply because I haven’t yet.  So, I don’t really have anything all that valuable to share today, but here we are.

Of note today:

1) This little blog had topped out at 47 visits a day since it’s inception a week and a half ago.  I posted that bit about the Wizard of Oz last night and tagged my 18 year old cousin and one of her co-stars on Facebook, and suddenly I’ve got more than three times the normal traffic.  Sweet.  🙂

2) The Brownie troop has been saved!  My co-leader and I have both resigned.  She is moving out of the district and her daughter will go to a different school, and I’m swamped with school stuff.  We have been pleading with the other mothers for months for someone to step up and take over.  We’d only had one taker before, but we learned that there is another tonight.  The troop will NOT disban.  These girls will go into 4th grade as a troop.  That’s wonderful because they’ve been together, most of the anyway, since kindergarten!

3) I have a final paper due for my class on Sunday night.  I have not begun it, and I won’t get to it tomorrow, either.  Mom and I are going shopping for the kids’ Easter outfits.  It will be fun, and I can’t wait.  We’ll have Baby Bird with us, but Grandpa will pick up Girlie and Middle, so we’ll be off the hook for deadlines.  

4) Those prick boys in Stuebenville got off too easy and I’m sick to death of the media playing up the “poor boys with the promising future” thing.  My nearly eight-year-old son knows that what they did was ridiculously wrong.  There’s no excuse for them.

5) Hillary Clinton came out in support of Marriage Equality today.  Nobody batted an eye except to mention that it might be in preparation for a run for the presidency.  No grief.  No “what took her so long.”  Major double standard folks.  Let’s welcome all who figure it out to the table.  

That’s it for tonight, folks.  See you after shopping tomorrow.  When I will be putting off the research for my paper.  


Prodigal Portman

Yeah, I know.  You thought I was just going to go on about my kids and what to make for dinner, maybe throw in a genealogy post every once in a while.  Nobody said I was going to start blathering on about religion or (gasp) social and political issues.  Well, I hadn’t meant to.  I didn’t start this thing to “get readers.”  I didn’t start it to gain a following.  I love interaction, especially on the internet, but I think of this as a sort of diary I leave lying out on the table.  You can read it if you want, and that gives me someone to “address” it to, but if nobody reads, that’s fine, too.  My kids will have something to look back on and see a record of sorts about what Mom was thinking when they were small.

But sometimes you have to tackle the tough stuff.  And when I tag this post, I’m sure it will be lumped into some piles with other ramblings and maybe folks will read it and be mad.  I hope so.  Get mad, and then lets talk about it.

If you’re my friend on Facebook the only thing you know for sure about my politics is that I believe strongly, and passionately, vehemently, even, that EVERYONE should have the same legal rights to the privileges and responsibilities of legal marriage.  If you need more background on me, know that I am pretty socially liberal in general, but also very fiscally conservative.  I’m Christian, Lutheran to be specific.  I think we all make our own American way, and the government should exist to keep us safe, protect our borders, provide some framework for education (only because it’s mandatory, and the more local the better), and to a limited extent, provide a safety net.  That’s pretty much it.  I mean, we can quibble about more, but that’s it in a nutshell.  So, now you know that.

We all woke up to Senator Rob Portman’s big announcement that appeared as an op-ed piece in the Columbus Dispatch.  While he was a co-sponsor of DOMA 17 years ago, today he has thought through his position “in a much deeper way.”  Awesome, I say!  Wonderful!  A member of the GOP, one who was seriously considered as vice presidential candidate, has come out and not just said, “My son is gay and I love him!” but “My son is gay and deserves everything I have.”

Immediately there were opinions all over the web.  This is the first one I saw, appearing in New York Magazine.  I was stunned at the judgement and unnecessary dismissal of Portman’s “deeper way” of thinking through his position.  Jonathon Chait said, near the end of his rant, “Support for gay marriage would be right even if he didn’t have a gay son. There’s little sign that any such reasoning has crossed his mind.”  What?  Did he miss the part early in Portman’s op-ed where he said that bit about the deeper thinking?  He didn’t say, “Oh, my son is gay and he needs to get married.”  Two years ago he found that his son was gay and since then he has thought about it in that “deeper way” whatever that means.  Well, what does it mean?  For anyone to say it means he only feels it because it affects him is to only see half of it.  It’s as selfish as it is accusatory of selfishness.

I’ll tell you what that “deeper way” is.  It’s prayerful.  It’s religious.  It’s about a man who had to go to his knees and tell God he was wrong.  I don’t know Senator Portman, but I believe he is what he claims to be, a Christian.  A Methodist, I believe.  So, no man who calls himself a Christian and means it is going to put himself out there as reversing his opinion about anything without a great deal of prayerful consideration.  I’m going to go even further and say that he has likely been praying about his son since Will was born.  If the accusers out there today have anything right about the senator, it’s that he probably didn’t give any thought to whether gay marriage was right or wrong until he found himself the father of a gay man.  He went along with his party and their agenda without praying much about that.  It’s easy to feel right with all the folks surrounding you repeating what you already think you believe.  So, he only began this prayerful consideration after his son came out.  I don’t care.  He landed on the right side, and I’m glad to have him here.

So, he goes along for ages, just completely buying the United Methodist Church’s teaching that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,”  He goes forward all the time accepting the GOP’s platform which we all know is decidedly unfriendly to LGBTs.  Now he has a reason to question it.  A good reason.  His son.  His very own son is gay.  Soooooo, prayer.  That’s where we go, us prayerful folks.

You know, I didn’t always see things the way I do.  I once bought that whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” crap.  I was a kid, and it seemed to be enough.  So many people were spouting that, and it seemed to neatly tie up a moral dilemma.  Plus, I was just kid.  What the hell did I know?  But somewhere along the way, I realized I knew a LOT of gay people.  (Though, oddly, not too many openly bi or transgender.  Sorry, irrelevant side note.)  I knew gay people who were out.  I knew gay people who were so far in the closet they hadn’t admitted their sexuality to themselves.  I knew gay people who were clearly and frighteningly aware of their sexuality and still painfully locked in the closet.  Everyone who goes to college knows these people, right?  Or at least everyone who goes to college and spends time in the theatre.  I began to wonder what God wants for these “sinners.”

I knew that I was no more, and certainly no less, of a sinner than these friends who happen to be gay.  I knew that God forgave me all my sins, those having to do with sex (and yeah, there were a couple of those), and those having to do with desires unacted on, and even those having nothing whatsoever to do with this discussion.  So, God forgives them, too, right?  Sure.  But while I’m willing to stipulate that pre-marital sex, or promiscuous sex, or any sex not part of a loving and committed relationship (marriage, but by who’s definition?) is a sin, what difference do the details of that sin make if it’s forgiven?  Dirty is dirty, but clean is clean, no matter how dirty you were.  So, even if gay sex is (and I’m not saying it is) a sin, I never could get myself to wrap my head around the thought that God would want anyone to NEVER experience the closeness of a loving, two-person, intimate relationship.  I just can’t believe that God would say, you must push away anyone who you feel drawn to in that special way because it will likely lead to gay sex and that’s bad.

So for a while I figured that gay people were born gay and had sinful gay sex, or they were born gay and DIDN’T have sinful gay sex.  But that doesn’t wash, either, does it?  We’re talking about changing WHO someone is.  Oh, I am so botching this.  Here.  Read Matthew Vine’s transcript.  You can watch the video from his site, too, but the transcript reads better.  He says it so much better than I do.  And he sites the arguments against, scripture and all.  I urge you to read it, whatever your stance.  He is measured and calm, and real.  He explains calmly and respectfully why those arguments that amount to “the Bible says it” or “God says it” are just not valid.  Or AT LEAST not any more valid than the other side.

Now?  Now I’m an adult.  I have even more gay friends, but most of them are out today.  And I’m so glad.  I’m glad for them.  I’m glad for those who love them.  I’m glad for my kids.  Two such friends are Matt and Ray Lees.  They were featured in a New York Times piece in the summer of 2011 about gay couples and adoption.  They have adopted eight kids.  That’s right, you read that right.  EIGHT children.  EIGHT!  They are the parents I think of when I go to bed exhausted after looking after my three.  They had three adopted children and when they found out that the five siblings they’d been asked to take would be separated, they said, “Bring it on!”  They remodeled and added on to their house, over improving it way beyond the rest of the neighborhood.  They have SEVEN kids who are third grade and younger.  It is beyond me how they get through the day, but they do. And they like it. (Well, most of the time, I’m sure they have their moments, too.)  They can’t even adopt as a couple.  Ray has three, and Matt adopted the other five.  They have “custody agreements” but how does that work?  And both parents have to work to keep health insurance for everyone.

I don’t want to make their case.  I want to tell you about what they mean to me and my family.  I don’t get to hang out with them, like ever, between the eleven kids we have running in different directions, my school, their jobs, all of it.  But when I run into them on the school yard, or in the grocery, I find myself gabbing until I’m late for something or a kid is melting down.  I am drawn to them because they are such good people.  I am compelled to share kid stories or laundry crisis, or whatever.  I can feel their love.  I can feel how much they love each other.  I can see how much they love those kids.  I can see how much they love their friends, me included.  Surely their children feel it.  MY children feel it.  I do not believe that God does not work through these men.  I do not believe that those men are any more or less created in God’s image than I am.  I thank them because not only is it harder for them to get the laundry done and the meals made and all the other drudgery of family life, but they have to deal with all the obstacles put in place by those who would have you believe that God doesn’t want their family to exist.  The obstacles put in place by those who believe that God wants them, through laws, to make it more difficult for their family to exist.  Thanks, guys.

But, again, I’m off on something else I didn’t mean to talk about.  I’m not out to convince anyone to change their mind about the sinfulness of gayness, gay sex, gay families, whatever.  I want to convince everybody to let up on Rob Portman.  He has a gay son, so that made him rethink his assumptions and his acceptance of what the groups he belongs to teach.  Should he have questioned them before?  Sure, but none of us can go back.  He can only go forward.  And because he has a gay son, he has gone forward with a reversal of his earlier stance.  It will cost him professionally, I’m guessing, but he’s made peace with that

I’m addressing this to the rest of you who agree with me about gay rights.  If you’re reading, if you’re STILL reading, please consider welcoming Sen. Portman to the right side of history.  Please forgive him his earlier silliness.  If you don’t, if we keep yelling about what he USED to believe, it will be that much harder for any other conservative leader to wake up and join us.  Don’t make it harder than it is.