Updated Blog address:
my domain name was swiped by a 3rd party. Please do not confuse “thelpkids.com” with my real site “thelpkids.wordpress.com”
I will be changing the domain to langbehnpondfamily.com
Updated Blog address:
my domain name was swiped by a 3rd party. Please do not confuse “thelpkids.com” with my real site “thelpkids.wordpress.com”
I will be changing the domain to langbehnpondfamily.com
Sadly, someone decided to hack my family’s blog on the 9th year anniversary of Lisa’s passing (2/19/15). I rarely check this site anymore; however, I happened to look early today.
So this post about LP family using nerf guns etc… is not me!
I am not able to delete it. I would hate to delete the entire blog – lots of history on here.
I’ll keep an eye out for other hacks. Changed all my security info. I’ll see if that helps
I have thought long and hard about when this day would come. It is time for me to shut down the blog. I am keeping the domain but regular posting will be a thing of the past. I will continue to use flickr since I have family who are not on facebook or instagram to see pics of the kids.
On Tuesday, 5 years after Lambda Legal filed a federal suit against the hospital in Florida, the US Supreme Court found Section 3 of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) unconstitutional AND the Justices dismissed the challenge calling for the end of same-sex weddings in California without merit. Ultimately, this means that couples in one of the 12 states and DC that have marriage equality, those couples will now receive all the rights, privileges and responsibilities at the state level and now the federal level. May seem inconsequential but it’s over 1100 rights that the Justices confered on all married gay couples this week. This is huge it means that now the widow of a same-sex spouse will not see her life erased by the stroke of pen when a death certificate is issued and her wife, husband, partner – as “single”. It means that Social Security Administration will treat the children of gay married couples as equal and that a partner is now entitled to the social security benefits that any other spouse gets when one dies or becomes disabled. Military families now will be able to get their spouses on base to shop at the PX, or live on base, or receive proper treatment should their spouse die while serving. I could go on and on. For Prop 8, the court effectively took the last argument the extreme right has that they are some how “harmed” by marriage equality. There is no impact on their lives personally and as a result, the court paved the way for lifting the stay on gay marriages in California. Officials are predicting that marriages in California could resume as soon as 30 days.
So as I have reevaluated the purpose of this blog, I think 7 years ago when I started it was mainly a way for family members to keep up with the kids and see the latest pictures. With the advent of social media and other platforms, that function of my blog has passed. I turned the blog into a vehicle for my grief. Good or bad, that is what happened and I appreciate all the people who have read my updates and sent emails of encouragement. However, I am ready to the put the “I” in my statements. I have finally come to the point that I no longer feel an every minute of every day need to refer to everything as “our house” “our kids” “we this” and “we that”. I have come to realize that it is alright for me to call them “my” kids and no one is going to judge me that I am forgetting Lisa and all she was to the LP Family. But that is just it – she WAS. I am ready to stop the nightmares of me sitting at Skaget beach and hearing the payphone ring and it be her on the other line asking “why I left her”. I am finally ready to reclaim who I am. It is now my journey not “our” journey. It is now “my” house not our house. I will never forget our 18yrs together and the family we started but it is just time and I think 6+ years may seem too soon for some and other are saying “finally”. However, this where I am right now. I am not saying I will never post again but the days of the tribute videos and counting the days that she has been gone, are done. I appreciate all of you for sticking with me and to my closest friends and my family – thank you for allowing me this time to figure it out and for being there as I have found my way through this dark tunnel called grief.
After nearly 7 years, hundreds of pictures, 444 posts and over 100,000 views – it is time to put up the “closed” sign. This decision also means that I am stepping back from regular public speaking because I just need to for me. I have given over 70 speeches or interviews in 6 years. I am not sure I can give any more at this time and in light of the SCOTUS rulings, I am assured that marriage equality for all US citizens in just a matter of time now. I have met amazing people along the way who continue to give their entire life to equality. I applaud every one of you. It is time for me to quietly bow out and hand over the baton and let someone else run with it now.
I have been humbled by all the love and support my family has felt since February 2007. Thank you all.
Well first and foremost – Happy Birthday to our Rosie. She turns 35 today, how is that even possible? It seems just yesterday she was brought to us by Jan Spears late on a Friday – the regular MO for my former agency. She was unsure of the sheepdogs, announced she only like the color black and we looked at each other thinking of her bedroom we were about to show here was really decorated for a 4 year old not a 14 year old. But by the end of the weekend, we all relaxed as we planned on transferring her to our middle school, getting clothes and shoes and her favorite drink at the time – Snapple. We were all in unchartered waters, I was 24 years old with a 14 year old. We became Rosie’s guardians a year later. Teaching her how to drive – a stick, getting her into sports for the first time and sending her to Germany with her High School class. What an amazing woman she’s turned out to be, raising her son and being so involved by coaching his sports teams and volunteer at his school. Happy Birthday to our Rosie!
In yesterdays mail, I received a graduation announcement from Tanner. Tanner lived with us for 8 months in 1994 into early 1995 until he was adopted by his grandparents. We celebrated his first birthday with him – and he was our first “baby”. Rosie and I taught him how to walk by bribing him with ice cream sandwiches. Oh my and now he has graduated from High School. Congratulations little guy. You are ready for the world. Above are pictures of Tanner at his first pumpkin patch trip and his first OshKosh outfit/pictures. What an amazing kid!
I always randomly do M, D, D, K updates but today I’ll go in age order.
Katie has finished her sophomore year at Timberline. She applied and was just hired by the City of Lacey as a Lifeguard and swim instructor. She was born to be a fish. She enjoys long boarding with friends, driving (I’m surviving), and hanging with friends.
David registers for his senior year of High School on Monday. He is required to complete at least 20 hours of community service by April 2014. He applied as a volunteer with City of Lacey Parks and Rec and they put him right to work this weekend. He is helping with a huge fast-pitching tournament. He will finish all 20 hours in just this weekend. He is learning great skills and the staff have been fabulous with him. David continues to referee U-10 to Adult soccer games. He has found his niche by being one of the sideline refs (the ones with the flags).
Danielle has been home from Eastern about 2 weeks. She finished her spring quarter on the Dean’s list once again. That is 2 out of 3 quarters of her freshman year on the Dean’s list. She is amazing. She is starting work again at the Dollar Tree – where she worked last summer. David finished as the top golfer for Timberline High School. We should play in a Junior Tournament in August which will be great experience for him.
Michael is doing alright. We had a bit of a hiccup with his behavior with his staff 3 weeks ago that lead to some unfortunate consequences. However he is working regularly a few hours on Friday and Saturday – which is fantastic.
The girls are going to the Cape the first 10 days of August and will get to see the Pond clan with all the cousins, Aunts, Uncles and G’ma and G’pa. David and I may take a small road trip to the Oregon coast while the girls are on the Cape.
If you are on fb – David, Danielle and myself are on there. Katie does Instagram mostly. Michael likes to talk on the phone. If you are unsure of how to reach one of us – send me an email through the blog and I will make sure you get the kids’ contact information.
Darian a bold and tenacious teenager contacted me about her junior english project months before the due date. She inquired about interviewing me so she could write a well informed position paper. I am very proud of her work and she received and “A” on this project. Just know she is from North Dakota and identifies herself as an ally to our community – her work inspires me that the next generation is listening and learning.
Honors English 11.5
13 March 2013
The Gay Rights Movement
It seems as though in every generation there is a new rights battle to be won. Many people believe that all these battles have their own goals and shouldn’t be compared to any other Right’s movement, but in actuality each struggle boils down to one simple, repetitive concept that the infrastructure of our entire country rests upon: Equality. In the 1850’s women and some men fought together for gender equality. In the 1960’s blacks and whites alike fought for color equality. In the early 90’s, people with disabilities who couldn’t defend themselves were liberated by others who didn’t have anything to gain except gratitude. Now, in 2013, the most diverse time period in history, Gay people are fighting for marriage equality and simple basic rights. My goal is to give them the full support of the straight population, including myself, because it has been shown throughout history that sometimes a little extra help can make all the difference. Although there is no excuse for discrimination, it is very prominent even in today’s day and age. Gay people, like every other group of unequals, are human, and today I would like to educate the population about the people who are dehumanized due to their sexuality. No person should have to face this kind of adversity. All of us, no matter how we feel morally about Gays, need to take a stand and fight for them and every other group of people that needs our help. We need to annihilate the opposition and get rights for our fellow Americans. It is our duty to be advocates for the American people and for the world.
The history of homosexuality dates back to the beginning of time. It has been discussed in such material as Plato’s Symposium, and even famous men such as Alexander the Great had an interest in other men (Pickett). However, in order to save time, I will not elaborate on the beginning history of Gays, but rather the beginnings of their liberation. The first recognized gay rights organization in the United States was founded December 10th, 1924. Since that time Gays have been working to gain the rights that every citizen is entitled to.
The real revolution began on June 28th, 1969 when Gays fought back against the police force at Stonewall Inn in New York. At the time, being Gay was considered a mental illness and there were no places where Gay men and women could meet and hang out. The privately owned Stonewall Inn was turned into a popular Gay bar and they had a place to go. When it was busted by the police, the Gays refused to show their ID’s and fought against them. Many straight couples aided them in their battle. The attack went on until 4am and eventually the Stonewall Inn was burned and destroyed. After the riot, many people began to sympathize with the Gays. This infamous event became known as the Stonewall Riots, which fueled the fire that still burns today (TabooJive).
One of the greatest fallbacks for the Gay population originated around the 1960’s and was pinpointed in 1982. This new disease, known today as AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) became known as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency). AIDS is actually caused by a virus not a lifestyle, but at the time Gays were targeted as the cause of the new killer. There is actually sufficient evidence to prove that the AIDS virus was manmade. According to Alan Cantwell, MD, “By 1977 over 13,000 Manhattan gays were screened to secure the final 1083 men who would serve as guinea pigs to test the hepatitis B vaccine”(Cantwell, Gay Experiment). Just 5 years later, the first cases of AIDS showed up in Manhattan.”The gay community was the most hated minority in America. After the experiments ended, the gay community was decimated by the ‘gay plague’.” In the first years of AIDS, the epidemic was largely ignored by the government and the disease was blamed on gay anal sex, drugs, and promiscuity. Gays were immediately labeled ‘high risk'”(Cantwell, Homophobic Homosexuals). Despite this major set back, the Gay liberation was revived and developed into the movement that it is today.
The Pro-Gay Argument
While many people have been in an isolated homosexual experience, the number of exclusively Gay people in the United States is close to 2.5% of the population (Tarmann) and for the first time in America there is a majority of support for Gays. “Overall, 53 percent of Americans say gay marriage should be legal…” says Damla Ergun, a journalist for ABC news (Ergun). For the first time, the discriminators are the minority. However, all is not won. Many anti-gay supporters do not believe that Gays can contribute to society at all and therefore should not have equal rights. In fact, there are many great things about gay people that should be presented and discussed.
Science is certainly not on the pro-Gay side, as it is genetically impossible for Gays to reproduce. However, that could be a good thing considering that many Gay families have turned to adoption in order to raise a family. According to the Williams Institute, UCLA school of law, about 6,477 children were adopted by Gays in 2000. By 2009, that number had skyrocketed to 21,740 and is still growing (Michelson). Although that is only a small minority of about 1% of all kids in the nation, it is still a huge advance for supporters of gay rights and homeless children alike. For Gay people that want to start a family, it is difficult but not impossible. The Human Right’s Campaign reported that 21 states and the District of Columbia are open to adoption for Gays. Although each have different rules about adoption, it is still achievable (Gay Adoption). It is also extremely beneficial for children that are put in the adoption system, as they are given a loving family.
In the episode, “Same Sex Parenting”, on 30 Days, directed by Morgan Spurlock, a woman that opposes Gay Adoption was sent to live with a Gay couple and their adopted children for 30 days. During her stay she met with advocates of adoption for children who faced the system themselves and they told her, “No child should have to deal with living in a group home. None of them come close to living with a real family….Whether black, green, white, gay, lesbian—whatever…The bottom line is, we need stable families for children” (30 Days). It is certainly a process, but completely worth it for the kids. Although Gay people cannot conceive their own children like a regular couple, they can save all the unwanted ones from the horrors of the adoption system and the world. In this way, Gays are providing love for children that wouldn’t otherwise receive it; a gift that most would agree is extraordinary to say the least.
Although the entire Gay Rights Movement is almost entirely based on ethics, there are some surprising facts about how married Gay couples can impact the economy greatly. According University of Rochester graduate, Jerome Nathaniel, it would be more likely for states to allow marriage if activists fought for economic reasons rather than ethical reasons. Since last July, when Gay marriage was legalized in New York, over 7,000 Gay couples have been married in the state. Over 200,000 people from around the country have come to the state to get married. New York gained $259 million in economic activity and $16 million in taxes. This huge economic increase is a great advantage of Gay marriage regardless of one’s moral stance. A second argument in support of Gay marriage is that same-sex couples are more likely to both bring in an income. If they are both bringing in high incomes, and file their taxes jointly, they can be required to pay higher taxes due to the “Marriage Penalty Act.” This will generate more money than taxing the two individuals separately. Divorce is also a costly procedure, and roughly 50% of all married couples will go through it. Sometimes more than once. This is another expensive battle that will generate revenue for the state (Nathaniel). This argument alone makes a strong case in support of Gays, but the list of good things that Gays can bring to the country is endless.
The Anti-Gay Argument
Although there are great things about Gay people, like any other controversial topic there is opposition and huge amounts of it in this case. Much of the opposition comes from religion and really cannot be considered valid due to the secular nature of our government. It seems, however, that our government is not following the rules outlined in our constitution and, therefore, there are still some important points to consider. It is mostly a moral battle, and will be difficult to win on both sides; but many of the arguments opposing Gay Rights can be flipped around to be Pro-Gay Rights arguments, and thus cannot be very persuasive. Despite its lack of validity, the Anti-Gay side is an extremely popular movement, and it is important to consider the opposition in order to counter and conquer the Anti-Gay movement entirely.
When arguing against Gay Right’s most religious arguments revolve around the scripture, which many faithful followers believe is the word of God. Although the Bible is strictly interpretation, many followers believe that homosexuality is condemned in the Bible and therefore should be condemned in the country as well. There are approximately six quotes from the Bible that refer directly and indirectly to homosexuality. For example, one of the most popular quotes is in Leviticus 18:22 cited from the King James Version of the Bible. God is speaking to Moses, and he says, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination”(King James Bible, Lev. 18.22). It is difficult to to understand exactly what God was saying here because the Old Testament was written nearly 4,000 years ago; however, for many religious followers (branches of Christianity in particular) the word of God is law and they are not open to different interpretations. This quote from the Bible specifically condemns Gays to Hell and for most Christians that is where the line is drawn on Homsexuality. To religious people, Marriage is the union between a man and a woman in holy matrimony. Gays are not supported by the Bible, so to them Gays should also not be able to be married as marriage is considered a religious institution. Although much of this argument is invalid due to the freedom of religion or no religion that the First Amendment offers, it is a major argument and important to evaluate.
The religious argument has made it far into the minds of people; but fortunately, when it comes to the government, the argument is stopped in its tracks due the equal protection clause in the 14th amendment of the Constitution. Although it doesn’t directly state separation of church and state, it can be inferred in this quote that has been used for many years to defend the rights of certain groups of people including blacks and women: “[No citizen of] any state shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”(US Const. amend. XIV, sec. 1). In order to effectively counter against the Pro-Gay Movement, opposers had to make more valid arguments and have come up with things that are really just buffers because their real opinions cannot be used logically in the government.
Although the arguments against Gays are sometimes correct, they don’t always tell the whole story. For example, in the Bible it does say that homosexuality is a sin, as stated earlier; however, in that same chapter it is also stated, “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him” (Lev. 20.9). Most Christians would agree that if their child is disrespectful to them they will certainly be punished but definitely not put to death. In that case, if we are not going kill rebellious children as the Bible says, how can being Gay possibly be a sin? Why is it that being Gay is an abomination as stated by the Lord, yet putting children to death is no longer ideal? It seems that if someone is going to follow the Bible they should follow all of it or none of it. How can we pick and choose what we want to hear and use that to constitute discrimination? We simply cannot. Thus, the religious argument against Gay rights is invalid.
The argument that marriage is a sacred, religious institution that must be preserved and will be ruined by allowing Gays to be married is also inaccurate. Why is it that Kim Kardashian’s 72 day marriage to NBA star, Kris Humphries (Pous), or Brittany Spears’ 55 hour marriage to Jason Alexander (Townsend) is completely legal and not punishable, yet Gay people who have been together for years cannot experience an actual, loving marriage? This is because the sanctity of marriage has been gone for many years. As previously stated, the divorce rate is 50%. Nearly half of all couples will go through it. And even more important, is that marriage is not only a religious institution, but a government institution as well. Because Gay couples cannot legally be married, they miss out on approximately 1,183 different benefits that traditional couples are endowed. Among these denied benefits are the right to assume parenting rights and responsibilities when a child is brought in through birth, the right to equally share all property in the event of a breakup, and the right to make decisions when a partner is in a medical emergency ( Rights Denied to Same-Sex Couples). Ultimately, these denied rights are not only demeaning, but in some cases can ruin lives. B
In 2007, Janice Langbehn and her partner of fifteen years, Lisa Pond, went on a cruise with their three children in Miami, Florida. Disaster struck when Lisa collapsed. She was rushed immediately to Jackson Memorial Ryder Trauma Center. Upon her arrival, Janice was informed by the trauma social worker that she was in “an anti-gay city and state” and was not allowed to see Lisa or know of her condition. Even though the couples Medical POA was faxed within minutes, over the next eight hours neither Janice nor her children were permitted to see lisa and she died alone the next morning. Janice and her children did not get to say goodbye (Langbehn’s Bio). Although this is an extreme case, it happens all the time. Since Janice and Lisa were not able to be married, she was not allowed to see the woman that she loved on her deathbed. Upon questioning, Janice said, “It’s not a Gay right, it’s a human right.” The right to say goodbye to a loved one should not be denied regardless of marriage status or sexual orientation. It is a simple right that every person should have, yet Janice and her children were denied due to the heartless discrimination that she faced. It is certainly not fair, and for this reason, we as a nation need to change.
Another popular argument is that being Gay is a choice. This argument has been proven wrong many times, yet many people still believe it. In 2007 the American Psychological Association stated that, “Homosexuality, in and of itself is not associated with mental disorders or emotional or social problems.” Most of today’s psychologist view homosexuality as neither willfully chosen nor willfully changed, just as heterosexuals are not likely to engage in homosexual activity. If homosexuality is not a choice, then the question arises, where does homosexuality come from? Many studies have conducted studies to find out the true cause of homosexuality and surprising results occurred. For example, in interviews with nearly 1000 homosexuals and 500 heterosexuals, Kinsey Institute Investigators found that Gay people are no more likely to have been smothered by maternal love, been fatherless, or been sexually abused than a straight couple (Bell et al.; Hammersmith et al.). As for things that do cause homosexuality, there are many. Among these are the number of older brothers a male has, the direction of hair whorls, relative finger lengths, age of onset puberty, and even their dominant hand (Myers). Although these may sound crazy, they are scientifically proven. Most importantly, however, is that it is possible to be born Gay. This is important because discriminating against someone because of their sexuality is the same as discriminating against someone because of their race or nationality. It cannot be changed.
One of the more logical arguments is that Gay couples cannot provide the benefits to children that heterosexual couples can. Some will go as far to say that Gay couples influence children to be Gay, but most people can agree that Gay couples will provide a different experience of growing up than that of a heterosexual couple. In a study on the effects of being raised by same-sex couples, Mark Regnerus found that “Less than 2 percent of children from intact, biological families reported experiencing sexual abuse of some nature, but that figure for children of same-sex couples is 23 percent”(Cooke). Although living with a Gay family is different, it is not necessarily a bad thing as Regnerus makes it seem. According to Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz , who conducted a study on the effects of children raised by Gay couples, there are many differences in the children but, “a difference is not a deficit.” They found that boys raised by gays tend to be more nurturing and less aggressive. Girls tend to aspire to be doctors, lawyers, and in other fields traditionally dominated by men. They did not find an increase, however, in the chances of a child being gay, or their chances of developing a mental illness. These factors remained statistically the same as any child raised in a heterosexual home (Silsby). Generally, adopting a child is not an easy process and for the most part, anyone that cannot provide a loving, safe home will be filtered out. The chances of a child being sexually abused by their adopted parents is very unlikely today. There is still much opposition to Gay adoption, but much of the argument ties back to ethics rather than logic.
Another common argument is that Gay people cannot have children which is the sole purpose of marriage. According to the Bible, when God created Adam and Eve, he told them to “…Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the Earth…” (Gen. 1.28). At that time, when there were only two people on Earth, this was an essential part of life; but today it is not necessary to keep reproducing. Actually it would be better to reproduce less because we are overcrowding the Earth. According to the current Population Clock, there are now about seven billion people on Earth (Census.gov). The World Wildlife Foundation announced that “Earth is facing a looming ecological credit crunch and the current financial recession pales in comparison.” By 2030, we will need two planets (PHENOMENICA). Obviously, producing children is the least of our worries and the goals of marriage have changed. Traditionally, marriage was not about love but about survival; today,however, it is much more love based. Most people wouldn’t enter into a marriage with someone they didn’t love because life today is much more want focused rather than need focused. This new love based ideology makes anti-gay advocates wonder, if we allow Gays to be married, where do we draw the line? should marriages be extended to animals, inscest, and poligamy too? Although all these are very different situations, they tend to be lumped together to argue against the marriage of Gays. Perhaps we should legalize polygamist marriages, and perhaps not. It is not feasible, however, to assume that the legalization of Gay marriage will lead to the legalization of polygamy. They are completely different battles. Another way to think of it is with the concept of Choice outlined by Andrew Sullivan:
….Some people are constitutively attracted only to members of the same sex. By contrast, no serious person claims there are people constitutively attracted only to relatives, or only to groups rather than individuals. Anyone who can love two women can also love one of them. People who insist on marrying their mother or several lovers want an additional (and weird) marital option. Homosexuals currently have no marital option at all. A demand for polygamous or incestuous marriage is thus frivolous in a way that the demand for gay marriage is not.
Sullivan presents a logical case to an illogical argument(Chapter 6: The Slippery Slope). This is further proof that not only has marriage changed, but also, allowing same-sex marriages will not make it crumble.
Regardless of a person’s opinion of Gay marriage and Gay rights, there really shouldn’t be an argument in the eyes of the law. It is true that in some states Civil Unions, or even marriage is available to same-sex couples. However, it isn’t recognized in every state. For example, If a couple gets married in New York and then moves to Texas it will be as if they were never married at all. This can cause huge problems similar to Janice Langbehn’s that should be prevented by the government. We should have learned our lesson in 1956 when segregation of blacks and whites was outlawed in Brown v. Board of Education, and “seperate but equal” came to an abrupt end. However, today Gays are given civil unions rather than an actual marriage and if they are able to be married it can only be imaginary in some states.. Is this not considered “separate but equal”? And remember, segregation was outlawed because it was much less than equal,as are civil unions. If a straight couple is married, they are married wherever they go. If a Gay couple is married, it can only be in Pro-Gay states. This is segregation. It may not be as obvious as black segregation, but it is there. (Black History Timeline) As can be seen, these arguments against Gay marriage are not valid and do not constitute discrimination in any way.
Roots of Discrimination
One of the biggest reasons for this kind of discrimination is the fact that we don’t learn from history. Most people in today’s world would not discriminate against black people or against people of with disabilities but just a few generations ago, our grandparents were trying to prevent these same minorities from getting rights. I have no doubt that fifty years from now, Gay people will be liberated, but right now they are not. In order to change history we must learn from it. One of the greatest social injustices is the story of African Americans.
There are many similar ideas in both the Gay Right’s movement and the Black Civil Right’s Movement. Blacks have also been around since the beginning of time, and like Gays, cannot help that they were born black. This simple difference in skin color provided for a new age of white superiority. As with the Gays, I will only speak of the black liberation rather than their entire existence, as it is extensive and their freedom is more important than the historic mistreatment that we are all aware of.
Since we were old enough to read and write the discrimination of colored people has been pounded into our heads in hopes of teaching us good morals. We all know about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, Rosa Park’s bus seat, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Dream.” Today, we sit and ponder how such discrimination ever could have taken place. How could anyone ever deny someone freedom simply because of the color of their skin? Just sixty years ago, however, the majority of white people in America felt superior to blacks. We find it hard to believe now, but then it was common practice. Segregation began in 1896, when the “Jim-Crow Laws” were passed. Blacks were free at this time, yet discrimination was still prevalent.The liberation for blacks didn’t begin until May 17th, 1956 when the “separate but equal case” outlined in Plessy v. Ferguson was reversed by the Brown v. Board of Education case. It was decided in a unanimous vote that racial segregation violated the 14th amendment and that separate but equal was, indeed, unequal and unfair.(Black History Timeline)
That court case was arguably the first step in igniting the revolution known as the Civil Rights Movement. In August of 1955, while visiting relatives from Mississippi, a fourteen year old boy from Chicago named Emmett Till allegedly whistled at a white woman behind the counter. He was beaten and shot to death by the woman’s husband and brother. They confessed to the crimes, but the case was acquitted and they got off scot free. On December 1st, 1955 just months after Emmett Till’s death, Rosa Parks, a black woman riding a bus in Montgomery, Alabama was asked to give up her seat to a white man. She refused and was sentenced to jail for breaking the segregation laws. Her refusal sparked interest from Civil Right’s supporters and they began to boycott the busing system. On November 13th, 1956, in the Browder v. Gayle. case, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the buses segregation policy unconstitutional. On August 28th, 1963, some 250,000 blacks and whites participated in the March on Washington. At this gathering, Dr. Martin Luther King gave one of the most famous speeches in American history; it was entitled “I Have a Dream.” (Black History Timeline)
Finally, a huge break came for the Blacks on July 2nd, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Right’s Act into law. At its’ most basic level, it gave the federal government power to protect citizens against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, origin, and sex. This was a historic landmark for the Black liberation because they now had the protection of the federal government. By 1986 , such people as Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby became popular black television stars and in 2009, groundbreaking news that Barack Obama, a black man from Hawaii, had become president spread across the nation.(Black History Timeline) It took the blacks over fifty years to finally overcome adversity, yet they have. Although the story of the Blacks seems to have little to do with Gays, it makes all the difference. The Black population is living proof that if a group of people wants to make a change, all they need to do is make a big uproar, gain sympathy, and fight.
The Road to Change
After the Stonewall Riots, the Gay Rights movement changed forever. Today, with leaders like President Barack Obama engaging in the fight to end Gay discrimination we are forever changing as a nation. In 2010, we repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that prohibited Gay soldiers to reveal their sexual orientation in the military; and in 2012, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. But the fight is not over. We must now work to repeal the Defense Against Marriage Act which prevents Gay marriages from being recognized by the federal government, and we must end discrimination which is a leading cause of suicide (The New Gay Rights Movement). With these facts presented, we can now make a change. According to Janice Langbehn, we can help the fight. She says:
…First know what is important to you. For some it’s making sure there are homes or resources for Gay teens who have been kicked out of their homes. Or maybe it’s to fight for marriage equality in your state. Find your niche and what you are passionate about, then read up on it. Don’t duplicate the wheel – groups like HRC, GLAAD, or Lambda Legal have done the research – see if you can intern with a local equality group or nationally if you have the ability…(Langbehn).
For just a second forget how you feel morally about Gay people. Imagine if this was your friend, your child, or even yourself. Would you let rights be denied to them, or would you fight for them? If you are not Gay, please put yourself in their shoes for just a moment and realize how difficult it is for them. If you are Gay, know that there are thousands of people fighting for you and for your rights. The bottom line is that we must make this right. Call your friends, your relatives, and even your state legislators. Make signs, protest, and fight against the hate. Not only will this promote love, it will save lives.We have lost too many young people, and caused too many miserable lives. Imagine a world without someone you love. If we don’t fix this, Gay people struggling to find their way will continue to be knocked down by discrimination Do not wait until it’s too late. It is time to end the hate and spread love and equality.
The April 9 incident of a Missouri man, Roger Gorley, being forcibly removed from the hospital bedside of his husband, Allen Mansell, once again brings into focus the consequences of laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 federal law restricting marriage benefits and cross-state marriage recognition to same-sex couples.
Same-sex married couples are denied more than 1,000 federal rights and benefits—including many medical benefits and protections —afforded to opposite-sex couples.
According to reports, Gorley was visiting his husband, a patient at the Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., when a family dispute occurred involving Gorley and his brother-in-law. Even though Mansell requested his spouse’s presence, and Gorley possesses medical power of attorney, security and police were called. Gorley was handcuffed and forcibly escorted from the premises. Gorley cites the couple’s sexual orientation as the cause for his removal. The American Civil Liberties Union is looking into the situation.
The Research Medical Center posted a public statement via their Facebook page stating, “In accordance with HIPAA, all Research Medical Center can report is that this is NOT a Gay Rights issue but an issue of disturbance where a patient was not able to get the care he needed.”
In February 2007, Janice Langbehn suffered a similar experience with her wife, Lisa Pond. The Washington residents and their children were on an R Family cruise when Pond suddenly collapsed and was rushed to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Fla. The 39-year-old—a Girl Scout leader, PTA volunteer and active participant at their local church—suffered a traumatic brain bleed. Langbehn, Pond’s partner and wife since 1988, was denied visitation. Pond died the next morning.
In direct response to the Langbehn-Pond family’s experience, President Obama sent a memo to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in April 2010 directing HHS to address hospital visitation and other health care issues surrounding the LGBT communities. The following November, HHS announced new regulations that broadened hospital visitation and banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, etc. The revised federal regulations took effect in January 2011.
However, with the Defense of Marriage Act on the books codifying the definition of marriage to exclude same-sex couples, it weakens efforts to safeguard rights such as hospital visitation. The U.S. Supreme Court is deliberating a portion of DOMA now, and a ruling expected in June.
Langbehn shares the details of her experience and thoughts regarding the future of LGBT rights.
Windy City Times: What was the situation when you arrived at the hospital?
Langbehn: It was me, our three kids (then ages 9, 11 and 12) and seven pieces of luggage. I went to admissions and asked the woman, “They just brought my partner in. Are there forms to fill out?” She told me to just sit down and wait. Being a medical social worker myself, I figured they were still getting things settled. About 10 minutes later, a gentlemen came out, Garnett Frederick, a social worker. He said in a warning tone, “Just so you know, you’re in an anti-gay city and state. You will not get to see her under any condition.”
[Langbehn was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. Due to her medical situation, she and Lisa knew the importance of having advance directives, living wills, etc. They already possessed all the appropriate legal documents and Langbehn had them faxed to the hospital within 20 minutes of Frederick’s comments.]
WCT: How long before someone came to discuss Lisa’s status?
Langbehn: At about two hours in, a surgeon came out, scrubs and cap on, and said Lisa had a massive bleed in her brain and they needed to put a pressure monitor on her … I said to do it. He left and I didn’t see him again.
About an hour and half later, two surgeons came out and explained that she had a massive bleed that had pushed one side of her brain into the other. One pupil was already dilated, which meant there was already some brain death. They explained that surgery could drain some blood and we could wait and see, but they felt it likely wasn’t survivable with any quality of life. They received a page, left and came back to say that her other pupil had blown and the major part of her brain was dying.
In her living will, she didn’t want heroic measures, but she was an organ donor. I said that I needed to see her. I was making decisions in a vacuum. I needed to lay eyes on her to know that it was as dire as they said. The doctor told me they’d get me back there and then left. I never saw them again either.
WCT: When were you finally able to see her?
Langbehn: At about five and half hours into this ordeal, I said that I needed a priest to do last rites, what they now call anointing of the sick. I also wanted to see her first before the children so I would know what to explain and so they wouldn’t be terrified by the machines. When I finally saw her, I was trying to take everything in. Lisa was restrained to the bed, unconscious and on a ventilator. The trauma room/OR wasn’t busy. It was fairly quiet. After last rites were done, the priest gently guided me back to the waiting room and I never saw him again either.
By then I was getting a little frantic because I knew how serious it was. I kept saying that the kids needed to see her. The receptionist, who’d been telling me for six and half hours to sit down, became even more forceful and said, “Honey, they’re too young to see her anyway.” She told me to go sit down and they’d get me if I was needed.
At seven hours in, around 11:30 p.m., I finally let myself quietly cry a little. I felt so defeated.
[Lisa’s sister and brother-in-law drove from Jacksonville immediately after Langbehn notified them of Lisa’s collapse. They met Langbehn at reception and were told that Lisa had been moved to ICU over an hour earlier. No one had informed Langbehn.]
WCT: Did the hospital administration’s attitude change after Lisa’s sister arrived?
Langbehn: I really don’t know what would have happened if her sister hadn’t arrived or if I would’ve had to wait until her dad arrived the next day.
At 12:15 p.m., that was the first time I was able to hold her hand and stand next to her. It was the first time the kids saw her since 3 p.m. that afternoon.
Lisa was pronounced (brain) dead at 10:45 a.m. the next morning.
WCT: You’ve been a tireless advocate and spokesperson to raise awareness. Are most people shocked to learn this happened so recently?
Langbehn: There is a sense of disbelief that this could happen in 2007, that somebody—multiple people—could be that cruel. Holding the hand of your loved one as they’re dying is not a gay right, it’s a human right. Lisa should have been able to feel and perceive us as much as possible so we could make her last moments peaceful. What remains in my mind is that she was alone and restrained to a gurney. How horrible. That’s how I remember her last moments.
WCT: Lambda Legal, an organization that works on behalf of civil rights for the LGBT communities, filed suit against Jackson Memorial Hospital in 2008. The federal court dismissed the lawsuit. What was the reason for the lawsuit’s dismissal?
Langbehn: In the judge’s opinion, he cited that because of the five minutes I saw her with the priest (during last rites), that was all the duty of visitation the trauma center owed me since we weren’t a legally married couple. Also, because the surgeon consulted me about possible surgery while in the quiet room, that was all that was owed me and therefore did not violate power of attorney. However, he also said that, by all accounts, what happened to us was unbecoming of such a renowned institution.
WCT: Many states, including Washington, already have legislation that protects couples against experiencing your medical situation with Lisa. Especially considering the Supreme Court hearing regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, why is it important to have more universal standards?
Langbehn: We live in a society of planes, trains and automobiles. We’re a movable society. What (rights), domestic partnerships and so on that might be recognized in a state such as Washington, may not be recognized somewhere else such as Florida. As soon as you go to another state on vacation, your rights stop at the border. This patchwork of rights throughout the United States is crazy. When DOMA is finally stripped down, it will mean that when you say “this is my wife” here (in Washington), it will mean the same thing (legally) in Kansas, Alabama and California.
In October 2011, Langbehn was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, nation’s second-highest civilian honor for her ongoing advocacy.
(Grammar and spelling will be corrected once I’ve had some sleep)
It is only 6:30am here; however I am unable to sleep because historical arguments begin at SCOTUS in just 30 minutes (10am EST). Today Prop 8, the California law reversing the CA Supreme Court decision allowing for marriage equality in a narrowly defined window. The proposition was defeated by manipulative and flat out lies to scare the public into voting ‘yes’. Lies including that children will be taught all about “gay sex” in their classroom and everything in between. Thereby overturning marriage equality (by the passage of Prop 8) only 18,000 couple were allowed to keep their marriage licenses. Two very important couples close to me are my sister, Marilyn and her wife Scarlet as well as Kelly (Lisa and my college friend – all the way back to 1986) and his husband Bill. All the other California couples who didn’t seize the opportunity narrow slit of history allowing for marriage equality effectively became second class citizens under the law.
Wednesday SCOTUS hears oral arguments about the constitutionality of DOMA (defense of marriage act) signed into Law by President Clinton in the mid1990’s. when Clinton signed DOMA, Lisa and had been ‘wed’ ( a formal holy union ceremony) for nearly 6 years. We had raised a foster teen from 14-18 yrs old beginning when we were only 23 & 24 yrs old ourselves. We were transitioning Michael our oldest son to live with us, he was 6 yrs old and severely mentally challenged. I will be honest, Lisa and I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to O!A at the time – now it’s all I can think about. In recent years, the Obama Administration stopped defending DOMA also finding it unconstitutional; however Boehner finds it his more and public servant calling to defend DOMA.
When Lisa was forced to die from an catastrophic brain aneurysm in February 2007, my reoccurring feeling of not being good enough slapped me in the face. For 8 hours, I begged and even tried to sneak my way through the code locked doors to be with Lisa. I think of how terrified Lisa felt in her final hours – restrained and unable to use the entire right side of her body. As they sedated her, drilled a hole in her head to relive the rising pressure in her brain, was she able to ever ask for the kids and me verbally or with ASL? I will never know. What I do know are my repeated attempts to reach the hospital operator no less than 15 times in 8 hours, according to my cell records. I did this in an attempt to bypass the lazy and apathetic admitting clerk who wanted nothing to do with my family. In the first 20 minutes of our family’s arrivals, I was told I was not the same as other families by Garnet Fredericks words “you are in an anti-gay city and state”. This was not some cautionary warning because even after Ryder Trauma received or family’s legal documents including advanced directives, living wills, medical power of attorney and wills – we were ignored and I watched or the other families at Ryder Trauma, at Jacksin ‘memorial (Miami) escorted behind those code locked doors to their loved ones.
Even today 6 years and county since Lisa’s death, I relive those eight hours in my waking thoughts and nightmares. Not a ‘poor is me’ but the pain for the pain our children endured at JMH that day and the fear I have that Lisa thought I abandoned her in her greatest time of need.
You would think out story ends there because waiting 8 hours to be with your wife, partner soulmate is cruel enough;however that was just the beginning . The children and I are still treated as “less than” for the ensuing 6 years by our government.
First, came Lisa’s Death certificate from Florida, which I can’t even request myself. It’s true I have to go through the Connecticut funeral home who provided the initial services for Lisa’s Funeral Mass in her hometown. That death certificate it self is also one big slap my face… it lists Lisa’s status is listed as “single” effectively erasing 18 years of commitment to each other and our children.
You might think its not a big deal but having jointly adopted our four children (from WA state foster care) with both of us listed as “mother” and “mother” it is a legal quagmire that I still battle every day. The children’s death benefit couldn’t start from SSA until I could get the death certificate.
Then an even more difficult piece, which I am reticent to delve because it pulls the veil back on strained family and friend relationships. Lisa and I planned it would be me that died first- I am the one with MS after all. I can count on more than 2 hands the number of people who shook my hand or hugged me at Lisa’s funeral and Memorial who said “anything you need- just ask”. The sad truth is the number of people I can still count on today, 6 years later, only fills up one hand. Don’t get me wrong those five people I cherish everyday and thank God they are there for the kids and me.
There was only a bit of debt we took on separately – credit cards or student loans only in Lisa’s name. It would stand to reason, if I signed now promissary notes, I shouldn’t be responsible for them. However, even after providing these companies like Radio Shack or Mary’s with Lisa’s death certificate – they said that I was responsibility for the debt also and so those have been charged off as bad debet even though I had nothing to do with them, negatively effect my credit report regardless.
Probably the worst of all is SSA. When I fell down 11 stairs, while working, in August 2007 and then had emergency back surgery several months later- it was apparent that my employer of nearly 20 years wouldn’t/couldn’t want to wait the time necessary to see if I could come back given this devastating injury coupled with my MS. So as I drew Workman’s comp and the children received Lisa SSA benefits from March 2007-2012) we were getting by. Then almost a year ago, SSA decided by some rule they are unable to give to me- the children should draw on my SSA disability instead of Lisa’s. wouldn’t seem like much of a big deal until they offset the SSDI benefits from my Workman’s. the end result – I lost over 55% of my gross income with only 30 days notice. Not easy with 3 teens and one in a 4 year university.
The kicker is that SSA says they haven’t dealt with a case such a mine with a deceased mother, disabled mother – with jointly adopted children (not second parent adoptions).
Now our family becomes a test case for all those coming after us – both with hospital visitation and now the SSA (and the other federal rights I’m not entitled to). If you still don’t understand the need to overturn DOMA, my hope is that you see it goes way beyond just a marriage license. 6 years after Lisa’s death I still have to go through the funeral home to get a certified copy of Lisa’s death cert, it took my 3 years to get copies of her medical records in Miami, whereas her parents received Lisa’s records in just 3 months (even though I’m the executor of Lisa’s estate) in just 3 months without her parents even requesting them. I have never received an apology from JMH, and now SSA arbitrarily decides that some rules require the children to draw on my SS# and that I may have an overpayment by almost 50K due to rule change.
Marriage Equality and finding DOMA unconstitutional means so much more to the millions of LGBT families than many of even know until thrown into a situation where it is obvious we are second class citizens, and at the federal level, we have no legal recourse.
Please wear the color red today and Wednesday to show your support of SCOTUS hearing these cases – a historical event I will have to follow from 3000 ,lies away, but I am there with all those I have met along my journey.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nadine Smith, Executive Director, Equality Florida
(727) 386-8123 / firstname.lastname@example.org
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT EMERGES FOR STATEWIDE DOMESTIC PARTNER PROTECTION;
SENATE COMMITTEE SET TO VOTE TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19
With widespread bipartisan support from government and community leaders throughout the state, the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs will hear the “Families First” bill on Tuesday, February 19. The bill, introduced by committee chair Senator Eleanor Sobel (D), would allow gay couples and unmarried Floridians access to key legal protections for their families.
Nearly half of Floridians already live in a community that has a domestic partnership registry, including Palm Beach, Pinellas County, Volusia County, Orange County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Key West, Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville, Tavares, Clearwater and North Miami.
A statewide law would ensure all Floridians access to protections. Leaders who have voiced their support include Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (D), St Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster (R), Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D), Kissimmee Commissioner Cheryl Grieb (D), Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson (R), Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe (D), Orange County Comptroller Martha Haynie (R), Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower (D). Former elected leaders are weighing in too. Former Orange County Commissioner John Martinez (R), former Gulfport City Council member Bob Worthington (R) and former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti.
The Families First bill will simplify the process for providing important legal protections to domestic partners, no matter where they live in the state.
“In the past year, Florida has seen a wave of support for domestic partner registries – affecting both gay and straight couples – through the passage of legislation in numerous municipalities,” said Nadine Smith, Executive Director ofEquality Florida. “It is vital that there is a cohesive, statewide policy in place, eliminating obstacles and hardships that no one would want inflicted upon their own family.”
The hearing comes six years to the day that Janice Langbehn’s life partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, died at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital. Janice was denied access to visit Lisa, who had collapsed as the couple and their four children prepared to leave for a cruise.
The case drew national attention and eventually prompted President Obama to issue an Executive Memo requiring hospitals that receive Medicaid funding to treat domestic partners as family. The President called Janice from Air Force One to announce the change. That memo makes creating a means to establish a domestic partnership all the more urgent. (In 2011 the President presented Janice, a self-described “accidental activist,” with the Presidential Citizens Medal).
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2450 NE 135th Street
North Miami, FL 33181
tel: 305.974.2201 / cell: 305.458.3639
Communicating with Integrity
The holidays are behind us. Danielle started her second quarter at EWU and is learning to adjust to the snow of Spokane. David just returned from a school sponsored trip to DC watching the second inauguration of President Obama. Katie is playing basketball and about to turn 16 and take her driving test (Yes, my 4th and final teen I taught to drive). Michael is hoping to move in with a more able-bodied roommate so they can do outings together. I am signed up to take the State Guardian Ad Litem program to expand on my volunteering CASA duties with Thurston County Superior Court.
I received an invitation from the White House, Office of Public Engagement to attend the inauguration of President Obama. Unlike David who planned his trip to DC for over a year, I only received 9 days notice – apparently after an oversight it was assumed, as a Presidential Citizen Medal recipient, I already received my invitation. Since I spent much of 2012, close to home and not engaged in public speaking, I didn’t want to ask for sponsorship from any of the LGBT groups. However, once I posted on FB that I received an invitation – and my step-sister Teresa said “you better get your ass there” others jumped on the band wagon. Airline miles were donated, a “chip-in” account was started for expenses and best of all – Tom Sullivan, who since its inception on the Health Care Quality Index at HRC, offered up his sofa bed. It seemed a hastily planned trip might be possible. And then, GLAAD’s (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Charlie Wells called and generously offered two round-trip vouchers on Southwest Airlines a corporate sponsor of GLAAD. I am blessed. I asked Katie to come with me but she didn’t want to miss school or more importantly basketball. So I asked Sarah Jane to come with me but she was just recovering from surgery and it didn’t seem like a wise idea. So I asked my crazy bare-foot running friend Christine to come along. I jokingly call Chris, “my straight ally who knows more gay people than me”.
Chris has never visited DC. What an adventure we had. Tom and his husband TJ were amazing hosts – feeding us great home cooked meals and driving us to Mt. Vernon and then to the Washington Mall. The guys also made sure we had our metro cards all ready for the big day so we could get down to the Capitol. We visited the Lincoln Memorial, and looked out at the mall were Martin Luther King Jr, gave his speech at the March on Washington 50 years ago. Then hearing the President call for full equality for the country’s “gay brothers and sisters”. It was a truly historic day with the Inaugural Address, the Poetry and the Benediction all call for full equality for all Americans. It was electric to be among the crowd of 1 Million people there to witness history.
I am grateful that this trip to DC allowed me to finally see places I have missed because of only being in town 2 days at most and being caught up in meetings – I am not complaining, it was pleasant to experience DC in a different way this time.
Thank you to Tom, TJ, Chris and all the individual donors on the Chip-In account that help pay for food and expenses. A huge thank you to Southwest Airlines and GLAAD for sponsoring my trip to DC and allowing Chris to come along to help me get physically get around with my MS.