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Yesterday’s Friday Links
was epically longer than usual. There was just so much crazy news this last week!
Among those links were stories about state and local officials defying the Supreme Court ruling declaring bans against marriage equality unconstitutional. Some of those officials are rethinking: Sioux County Clerk reverses course, will issue same-sex marriage licenses. As lots of people have been reported, these individual officers and their counties are getting sued, and they are going to lose those lawsuits to the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars each since the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a very clear rulling. Any good (not crazy) lawyer will tell them that. And some of them apparently are getting advised by good lawyers after the news stories are reported: Van Buren clerk says she won’t issue marriage licenses: UPDATE: Changes tune. Some are getting better legal advice from their governors: Governor to Casey County clerk: Issue marriage licenses or resign, but digging in their heels anyway: Kentucky Anti-gay County Clerk Remains Defiant After Governor Tells Him to Do His Job or Resign – VIDEO
Alvin McEwan (who runs the excellent Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters blog) sums up the real issue very well in Anti-LGBT Christian organizations are exploiting county clerks and peddling lies about marriage equality:
Individuals like Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer and organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, or the American Family Association want a resistance against marriage equality… As if they are puppeteers, anti-gay organizations and personalities are pulling the strings, buoying the arrogance and recklessness of clerks and various other government officials and thereby manipulating them to refuse to carry out their duties… Anti-gay groups are attempting to manipulate us all into an unnecessary holy war in which they hope to reap the benefits of pointing and saying “see, we told you so.”
Related, there are a couple of stories making the rounds (particularly on the Facebook pages of your most conservative relatives and former classmates) that are trying to fan the same flames: Gay Man Sues Bible Publisher For $70M For Causing Him Distress, Turns Out He’s Not Crazy. While he isn’t crazy in that there are some big problems with Biblical translations, he filed the suit seven years ago and it was thrown out. The other one is partially true and current, but there is a very important detail being left out: Oregon bakers forced to pay $135,000 after sharing lesbian couple’s home address. So the fine isn’t for refusing to sell the cake, it’s for publishing private information of customers (who they refused) leading to so many death threats to the couple, the social services almost removed foster children from the home for fear that those loving Christians leaving the death threats might actually follow through.
It’s not all crazy people over-reacting to a little civil rights, thank goodness. The Wonkette reported on Vice President Biden’s speech at the Freedom to Marry Victory Gala, Afternoon Nicest Time: The Time Young Handsome Joe Biden Fell In Love With Gay Marriage. If you don’t want to go watch the video clips at Wonkette, The Seattle Lesbian Blog provides a transcript: Transcript: VP Biden at Freedom to Marry Celebration of Victory.
Completely unrelated to all of that: one particular link in yesterday’s post caused one friend to stop reading and send me a message to tell me it stopped him from looking at the rest. It was a story about a particularly awful child abuse incident which I put under the heading “This Week in Heart-wrenching” because like any child abuse case it was heart-wrenching. This is not the first time someone has told me they wish I wouldn’t include bad news in the links.
I don’t want to get into a weird pedantic argument about what constitutes bad news, other than to say that each person who has made that request has also, at other times, commented on other links to things that someone would classify as bad news in ways indicating that they were glad I linked to it.
But I do want to talk a little bit about why I include links like that. One of the other links under the same heading was about efforts to identify the body of a dead child. I believe that as a human being (let alone a citizen), I have an obligation to that murdered child. She deserves to be buried with her name. She deserves to have law enforcement find out how she was murdered and at least attempt to bring her killers to justice. Both of those things require that she be identified. If I can increase the chances, no matter how little, by sharing the link to the artist’s reconstruction of her face, I think I should do it. That one, for me, is a no-brainer.
Also, literally no-brainer in that the reason both of those links ended up in Friday Links was because I saw the headline in my news aggregator, I clicked on it out of emotional reaction. Then I read the stories. They were both heart-wrenching, and I tapped the share link to send to my list for Friday Links as a totally visceral, emotional, non-rational surge of “Oh My Goodness! This is too horrible to be ignored!”
That’s how those sorts of stories get into the list.
For a long, long time sex advice columnist, gay rights activist, and Seattle gadfly Dan Savage has had a continuing feature on the blog of the local alternative weekly’s paper called “Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father.” He started it because, when he and his husband adopted a baby 17-or-so years ago, they began being harassed by even more threats, hit-pieces in conservative news sources, and so forth by various anti-gay people. The charge that the reason queer couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt, shouldn’t be allowed to have civil unions, and shouldn’t be allowed to marry is always couched in an argument that children can only properly and lovingly be raised by a pair of opposite-sex parents because reasons. The argument usually summed up as “every child deserves a mother and a father. So any time a story of a straight couple abusing (sometimes to the point of murdering) a child crossed his news feed, Dan would share it under the “Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father” heading. His point being that the mere fact that the adults raising a child don’t have matching genitals never guarantees that the children will be loved and cared for.
This feature always drew its detractors, too. “You don’t have to share these horrible stories to make your point,” or “Don’t make it sound like you’re happy to have your point proven correct” et cetera. For a while in reaction to those comments, Dan started including links to charities such as The National Children’s Alliance or The Child Help Foundation, giving those of us who read the stories of the horrible abuse an option to do something to help. Which maybe I should do the next time one of these stories winds up ripping my heart out and making we want to share the story.
I didn’t include the story because I was trying to make a political statement. I included it because it was heart wrenching, because I think it is too horrible to be ignored. I can’t save either of those kids. Sharing the news won’t bring either one back. But pretending I don’t know about their deaths doesn’t do anything to prevent other cases like theirs, either.
I don’t have any clever conclusion to this digression. All I can say is that there is a National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-Child/1-800-422-4453) that anyone can call if you suspect a child is in danger and you’re not sure who to notify. There is a lot of social pressure to hope for the best, to assume that the parent or significant other of the parent is just having a bad day. There is a fear of getting an innocent person in trouble. And there is an aversion to even thinking about the bad things that might be happening out of sight. All of those things contribute to cases like the sad one I linked to Friday.
So I share it as a reminder that there are awful people in this world who don’t always look awful. To make us mindful. To, maybe, encourage someone who has seen something like this, to call someone before the next child dies.
National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-Child/1-800-422-4453)