The personal IS the political.

It’s a given that I’m an Obama supporter.  Anyone that knows anything about me knows this.  However, I am not naive enough to believe that he is capable of solving all that needs to be solved.  It’s a job far beyond the time and scope of any one administration.  If you believe otherwise, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  Knowing this, I am voting for the man who I believe best understands the needs of the Americans he will represent, and works to align himself with meeting those needs.

We’ve all got issues that are important to us.  For me, those issues are health care, poverty, education, the environment, human rights, the economy, and equality-in marriage, adoption, legal protections, military service, and the general right to enjoy the freedoms that others are afforded.  And today, this last one is heavy on my mind.  I caught this Huff Post article that talks about Romney’s attempts to marginalize the gay families of MA during his tenure as governor, by supporting an amendment to ban gay marriage, and to also make it all but impossible for the non-biological parent of a same-sex family to appear anywhere on the birth certificate.  Each sentence disburbed me more and more, but this is what sent me over the edge:

Julie Goodridge, lead plaintiff in the landmark case that won marriage rights for gays and lesbians before the Supreme Judicial Court, asked what she should tell her 8-year-old daughter about why the governor would block the marriage of her parents. According to Goodridge, Romney responded,“I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.”

Mind you, this “adopted” daughter he dismissed was, in fact, her biological daughter.  A fact Romney was quick to overlook, because he ultimately doesn’t care.  He’s made it clear on multiple occasions-gay families are lesser than straight families.  He has no interest in protecting the rights or interests of an entire subset of the population he desires to serve.  For a man who believes in the idea of reducing big government, he certainly has no problem with forcing that same government into the homes/beds of thousands of Americans.

You may say that this isn’t an issue that affects you personally; 90 % of the population will never contend directly with the difficulties that same-sex couples face when trying to be a family.  Many of you may not even have anyone in your lives whom this affects.  I do.  So, allow me to introduce you to Corinne and Lisa:

Corinne and Lisa are two very dear friends of mine, who were married a little over two years ago in MA, in one of the most beautiful ceremonies I have ever attended , and are expecting their sweet baby boy this February.  Pretty standard story, right?  Only, these two spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to conceive, and contended with the heartache and hurt that came with that process.  It was heartbreaking as their friend to watch them struggle with the failed attempts, and incredibly gratifying to get the news that they were finally pregnant.  As difficult as this was, it was far from the most trying challenge they continue to face in trying to start a family.

These two women are going to be the most amazing parents, and I cannot wait to see them as a family, raising a baby boy who is going to be surrounded by so much love and happiness, that his little heart will overflow.  I am excited to see pictures of the three of them over the years- on the beaches of their home state,  celebrating holidays with their families, the little guy running around and playing with their dog Olive, and the little moments of pure, unabashed joy that fill their lives.  I can’t wait to hear them talk about how no matter how badly they always knew they wanted him, nothing could have prepared them for the love they felt when he was finally in their arms. I am looking forward to these things not only because I love them, but because they deserve it.  They deserve the right to find happiness and joy wherever they can in this world, to experience every sweet drop of life as a family.

Even though his arrival is just a few short months away, there are still battles to be fought.  There is all the legal paperwork to contend with, so that Corinne is protected as the other legal parent of their son.  And with that, comes exorbitant cost and jumping through hoops to prove herself to the state, a state that doesn’t yet recognize their marriage.  For example, Corinne AND Lisa (the biological parent) must complete fingerprinting and background checks, as well as a home study.  Lisa is a veteran of the US Air Force, who served this country proudly for six years, and is being made to follow an exhaustive process, because that same country doesn’t recognize her marriage or family.  Corinne must provide letters of recommendation regarding her character, from multiple sources.  Corinne also has to follow a tedious process to ensure that if, God forbid, something happen to Lisa before,  during or after childbirth, her child isn’t taken into the custody of the state and taken from her.  Because without all of this, he would be.  The state would find foster parents, strangers, better suited to raising this child, than his other mother.  Disturbing as this all is, same-sex adoption wasn’t even legal in Florida until two years ago, so this is what progress looks like.

These are experiences most people never even have to entertain, when deciding to have a child.  Why is the default that parents are considered fit unless proven otherwise, when the parents are straight?  I think time and experience has shown that children are no more secure in straight-coupled homes, yet heterosexual couples don’t have to prove themselves to be suitable parents before being allowed to have a child.  So, when you find yourself thinking about this issue, this topic that may never directly impact you, I want you to remember their faces, their story…because this IS personal to them, and thousands of families just like theirs.

And although you may say you disagree with Romney’s policies on equality, yet still plan to vote for him for his economic “policies” (which are what, again?), remember that by voting for him, you are still responsible for perpetuating anti-gay legislation and rhetoric.  Remember that your decisions, and Romney’s (if elected) have human consequence.

Put the wine down, Alice.

My parents hosted us for dinner last night, to celebrate the seven million birthdays in our immediate family, in ONE WEEK. Over the course of 8 days every September, we have the birthdays of my father, my two brothers, and my sister. So, a bunch of us gathered, and Grandma Alice was there, too. My sister’s boyfriend brought a jug o’ vino over, and before I know it, he’s pouring Alice some of the sticky sweet wine into a red Solo cup. Oh, God, I think. She’s going to go nuts. If she lacks a filter when sober, then all hopes of acceptable behavior go out the window when there’s wine involved. And, she’s off. She drank that first glass as if there was bucket of 20 dollar bills at the bottom, giggling, yelling, performing for what she perceives as her audience. It wasn’t too bad, more or less just Alice on a megaphone, if you will. Stuff we can handle.

Now she’s being poured a second glass, and I’m a bit nervous. She’s 80, never drinks, and has arteries that have proven inaccessible by even the most advanced cardiac interventions. Probably not the best candidate for “just one more.” I’m across the room, talking with my father, and then I hear it-“…and that OBAMA!” I freeze, looking at my dad. She’s going to start talking about politics. She’s trying to start a conversation with Kate’s boyfriend, who is giving her virtually nothing to go on, yet she’s undeterred. “You know Obama’s a Muslim, right?” and “He’s ruining our economy. I LOVED George W. Bush-now THERE was a president. He always did what was right.” Now, I don’t need to explain to you, dear readers, what statements like this do to my heart. It’s especially difficult hearing this come from someone I share blood with. It’s also worth noting that everything she thinks she believes is straight parroted from Fox News, or other equally uninformed people that tell her these things as truth. Being 80 however, means that trying to encourage her to see the light, tell her how wrong she is, is a fruitless activity. But, it’s also impossible for me to keep my mouth shut, no matter how hard I try. Sensing this, my father and brother interject with distracting, off topic jokes. In this moment, I couldn’t love them more. I look, and notice that Alice’s wine is only half gone.

A few minutes later, I’m sitting next to her, and she’s looking up at Kate’s boyfriend, who is playing with Squish. Suddenly, Alice says, “Dominick, take your shorts off!{*Insert horrified head snaps from all across the room, here*} I mean, your shirt! Take your SHIRT OFF!” This doesn’t make anyone in the room feel better, especially Dominick, who awkwardly smiles, not sure what to do. “Grandma!” I say, “Why are you saying that?” “What? Look at him, he’s hot,” she says, referring to him lightly dabbing his forehead with a napkin. “Don’t ask people to take their clothes off at a party, it makes them feel weird,” I tell her, and she laughs, as if I’m kidding. It’s not that kind of party, Alice.

Over the next few hours, she calms down (sobers up?), but not without first telling someone (who shall remain anonymous, for privacy reasons) what a weirdo she always thought their brother was, staring and creeping around all the time. She says all this, despite my mother’s attempts to tell her to stop, saying “Oh, no, Mom-not that again. We’re not going there.” Apparently, this a tale she likes to tell repeatedly. Not a big fan of socially-appropriate conversations, that one. She is, however, a fan of jugged wine, and the calamity that invariably ensues when she’s had some. But hey, she’s 80…I guess she can do what she wants. And she should (minus the political talk-that’s just a no-fly zone). I say go big, or go home…but only if you’ve got a DD.

Cheers, Alice.

Glassware fit for a frat boy.