So Gay Times
By Norma Sherry
are living in frightening times. We’re in a war without an
end. We’re in Iraq on a lie. We have a runaway deficit that
promises to get worse if we don’t alter our course. We have
more Americans out of work than in anytime in previous history.
We have lost jobs we’ll never regain to lands and workers
far from our shores.
We have lost seven of our ten Bill of Rights. We are on constant
alert for dangers untold and unknown. We have record numbers
of illiterate citizens. We have hungry children, abused children,
and fatherless children in numbers nearly incalculable. We
have new names for old groups and old groups disguised as
new. Bigotry, Anti-Semitism, and a lack of civility are at
We anesthetize our children to still their over-active bodies.
We have computers substituting for teachers. Video games in
place of family inter-action, and divorce and the single-parent
has become the norm. The glorification of God is politically-prudent,
publicly acceptable, and the converse is shunned and spat
upon; the battle of evolution versus divinity is the rave;
Puritanism and hypocrisy threatens to tear us asunder. The
concept of tolerance is null and void. Forgiveness and compassion
have gone by the wayside.
We are facing times that will test our strength, our humanity,
and our courage. We are also about to embark in an examination
of who we are as a nation, as citizens, and as participants
in a world community that is uniting us as one.
We have but to open our newspaper or turn on our news to
see faces staring back at us that are starving, frightened,
sick, and diseased; their tummies swollen, their homes’ shacks,
their roads’ dirt. We watch as earthquakes destroy entire
villages, as volcanoes erupt and natural disasters obliterate
We watch seemingly helpless as AIDS wipes out whole communities
and are horrified to learn that 28-million people around the
world are infected with HIV. We watch as new and old diseases
erupt around the world; Diphtheria becomes epidemic in the
Soviet Union and threatens to be the biggest health threat
in Europe. We watch as tens of thousands of cats are destroyed
as suspected agents of SARS, and multitudes of poultry are
euphemized for fear of a demonic bird flu.
Measles, one of the world's top-10 child killers, is dreaded
in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, taking the lives of well
over one-million youngsters every year. Tens of millions of
people are afflicted with the mosquito-borne Dengue Hemorrhagic
Fever and it is endemic in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
And, contaminated water used by half the world’s people kills
three-million children a year.
Terrorism and fear of terrorism seize our nation and holds
us hostage. Korea threatens to build a nuclear bomb; Iran
reportedly is covertly building theirs; Anthrax grips our
nation and closes eleven post offices; known cases of the
West Nile Virus doubled in 2003; and a million American’s
were scheduled to be inoculated against Small Pox in spite
of predictions that the vaccine will certainly kill a few
An extremely deadly form of Mousepox is created by a government-funded
scientist; a deadly horse virus which can jump to humans may
be coming to its 10-year peak and although rare in humans,
it kills between 50 to 70 per cent of those who contract the
disease. Those who survive, often suffer permanent neurological
Test-tube rodents grow up to be more confident adults than
their naturally-conceived counterparts, but their memories
are poorer. Questions arise how this study will impact the
over one-million test-tube babies born.
We’re entrenched in the electronic era: computers; laptops;
PDA’s, and cell-phones are the rave. The rich are getting
richer, the middle-class is nearly extinct, and the poor are
poorer. One-hundred-and-eighty-million people in the world
are without a job - 550-million people in the world earn $1
or less a-day.
The Equator is growing smaller, the Poles are melting, the
continent-size hole in the Earth’s ozone layer keeps getting
bigger and bigger, and we still don’t know who draws the circles
in the earth.
You might think with all these horrifying, amazing, and stunning
goings on in the world that we would be more concerned with
really important issues. But nay, our president, in his State
of the Union address, deemed athletes’ steroid drug use and
non-heterosexual marriages two of his top priorities.
In his Address, President Bush, the “Compassionate Conservative”,
who invokes the name of the Lord in every public speech he
makes, asked citizens to help him fight against activist judges
who are attempting to redefine marriage by court order and
destroy the “sanctity of marriage”.
The scourge of his condemnation is directed to a large sector
of alternative lifestyle partners. Couples who are no less
loving, no less devoted to one another than the ‘sanctified’
couples President Bush considers endorsed by God and one with
his interpretation of the Bible.
Republican lawmakers in nine of the thirty-seven states that
have “Defense of Marriage” acts are not satisfied with their
existing laws. Vigorously and voraciously the neocons and
paleocons are campaigning to their Christian constituents
that any union of same sex partners is an abomination and
as such, new, more stringent laws need to be enacted. After
all, Gay couples in marriage are a threat to God-fearing Christians
everywhere. Every one knows that!
Same sex couples have been living as married couples for
centuries. But they have been doing so without the federal
benefits automatically afforded legal heterosexual unions.
Gay couples are denied the very basic laws dignifying their
Without the legal union, Gay couples cannot avail themselves
to a single one of the 1,049 laws and benefits automatically
entitled by marriage in the Federal system, including: entitlement
to bereavement leave; automatic inheritance; domestic violence
protection; immunity against testifying against their spouse,
joint bankruptcy; wrongful death benefits; or loss of consort
benefits, and that’s just the tip of this proverbial iceberg.
No president should be entitled to determine who is a couple
and who is not; nor should the Federal Government or individual
states, for that matter. We need to embrace every citizen
and fight for their individual rights to life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness. This should include the union and
recognition of all loving relationships in marriage whether
they be Gay, Lesbian, or Heterosexual.
This is not the first time extremists have pitted man against
man and woman against woman. In 1919, there arose a religious
wail that alcohol would be our damnation. It wasn’t until
1933, that Prohibition was repealed. There have been other
fights: the Suffrage Movement fought for fifty long years,
not just for the right for women to vote, but for basic rights
such as: property rights; employment and educational opportunities;
divorce and child custody laws; and increased social freedoms.
In 1954, the NAACP won a landmark case that paved the way
for large-scale desegregation in schools. A year later, in
1955, Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus; Nine
years later, in 1964, civil rights groups converged on the
Democratic National Convention, launching a monumental protest
to register black voters. That same year, on July 2nd, President
Lyndon B. Johnson signed the historic Civil Rights Act presumably
ending segregation in public facilities and discrimination
But the fight for the right to marry inter-racially most
closely defines the fight for recognition of same-sex marriage.
Arguments that sound eerily indistinguishable from those applied
to same-sex unions, “immoral” and “unnatural”, were decried
in reference to inter-racial marriages.
As late as 1948, thirty-eight states still forbade marriages
of mixed-colors. Not until 1967, when the Supreme Court declared
that “the “freedom to marry” belonged to all Americans; that
marriage is one of our “vital personal rights”, and that the
right to marry is “essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness
by a free [people]”, were inter-racial couples free to wed.
One last ditch fight was overturned, but not without a valiant
effort by a Virginia judge who withheld his state’s ban on
inter-racial marriages citing that it was, “Gods intention
to separate the races”. Today, the “Defense of Marriage Act”
held in esteem by George W. Bush and the far right, should
be held to the same stringent principles as proclaimed by
the Supreme Court in 1967.
Definitively, the similarities are strikingly undeniable.
Most of us would agree the battle for equality still goes
on. We have a long and illustrious history of separatism and
superiority. There has always been a fanatical segment of
the population that equates equality for others as a loss
to their conceived elitist position. How else can one explain
the purpose for keeping women from voting and from being recognized
as equal; for keeping blacks second-class citizens devoid
of their civil rights and diminishing their dignity; for preventing
same sex couples from the laws of marriage that would afford
them recognition as a lawful uniting and the benefits therein?
This single issue unites all fair-minded individuals throughout
our land. Presidential candidate’s Kucinich, Dean, and Kerry
have all vowed their protection under our Constitution and
our civil rights laws to the dignity of marriage to all couples
no matter their sexual orientation.
If the denial of a legalized union of two loving individuals,
If fear of the abolishment of our civil liberties in the USA
Patriot Acts, and if fear of the diminishing jobs for American
workers, and unaffordable medical care, and an affordable
drug plan for every citizen isn’t enough to motivate the citizenry
to join together to take back our country, then we are destined
to follow our leader into a deep, putrid morass without any
hope of salvation.
It is time to celebrate our differences, honor one another,
delight in the joy of harmony, smile as we gaze upon a loving
couple - any couple. And, if it be our only option, we should
join hands, stand shoulder to shoulder and fight for equality
and dignity for all humankind.
Norma Sherry is co-founder of TogetherForeverChanging.org,
an organization devoted to educating, stimulating, and igniting
personal responsibility particularly with regards to our diminishing
civil liberties. She is also an award-winning writer/producer
and host of upcoming television program, The Norma Sherry
Show on WQXT TV., St. Augustine/Jacksonville, Florida.