Archive for equality

Equality vs. mutuality

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mutual equality

My former student and dear pal Lucia Fasano has submitted a post about equality vs. mutuality for your consideration (all of her posts can be found here). You can also see Lucia in my BLUNT VIDEO: Not Guilty– The George Zimmerman Verdict.

Please link over and read what this involved twenty-year-old has been writing. Here's her latest:

Mutuality an Actuality?

I’ve been actively involved in the feminist community since I graduated from high school and moved out on my own in 2011. I started reading feminist literature, went to rallies, made feminist friends and made feminists out of friends, praising the movement of “equal rights”. Recently, I was struck by the term “mutuality” and what it entailed. It was defined as a reciprocal relationship between interdependent entities-- and that, is what Bell Hooks and others would say, should be the ultimate goal, not equality.

It was a word that encapsulated the type of feminism I have believed in and strive for, but couldn’t properly articulate. Making your whole movement about equality was the problem with many approaches to various progressive movements to end oppression or educate others, because the opposition will always argue that total equality is unobtainable, so why even try? Or that if gay people can get married, or a woman gets the same pay as a man, isn’t the struggle over? And that’s just not true.

In the introduction to her book, “Feminism Is For Everybody”, by Bell Hooks, she writes: “Imagine living in a world where there is no domination, where females and males are not alike or even always equal, but where a vision of mutuality is the ethos shaping our interaction.” To me, mutuality is a demonstration of an ideal America and an ideal planet.

Another aspect of mutuality that makes it so perfect for the actualization of harmony and beloved community is the acknowledgement, in total mutuality, that we all need each other. The problem is, that doesn’t jive with Western Metaphysical Dualism. When mutuality is achieved, we all acknowledge that what feeds and helps the community enriches and strengthens the community as a whole. That one person’s job isn’t worth more than the other, that some people have more worth than others. Our government is supposed to have a welfare system, social programs, taxes, to create a safety net when members of our system need help-- implying that we’ll be there to catch each other and support each other in times of need. We all meet each other’s needs at one point, we all are parts of one big machine, and all should be oiled correctly.

People will put bumper stickers for equality on their cars or say from places of privilege that they wish for everyone to be treated entirely equal, when the truth is that people aren’t born into equal situations and to wish for that is unrealistic. So it’s easier to say than to actually achieve or work for-- because to really want total equality, you need to be very conscious of what goes into that and who actually wants that. But to be pro-mutuality, and to work for mutuality, all that takes is critical consciousness.

If you let go of your assumptions and separative-thinking, you’re giving yourself over to a world/community where everyone is playing a part or has the potential to. If you’re more conscious of what you consume and what you do and how  you treat people, then you’re closer to realizing how  truly dependent each individual is on each other. Even the richest people are dependent on the poorest. If feminists aim for “total independency, total equality”, then that makes it easy to ignore the people that aren’t reaching those goals once you achieve it for yourself.

I hear the term “equality” thrown around as a blanket term so often that its potency does feel diminished, when it was once a term that evoked a great fire in me and motivated me to stand up for myself and others. What is hard is that when we talk about equality, everybody has their own different thought and definition, usually influenced by the media, social status, political leaning, etc. Some people think it means being the same, some people think it means being treated the same-- but when we speak for everybody in our movements, and wish to include everybody, we have to acknowledge that not everybody wants to be treated the same, not everybody is the same, nor is it realistic to treat everybody the same.

Politicians would rather support an impossible or not serviceable goal like the idea of total equality than actually working toward better health care for the poor, raising minimum wage, or national mandated maternity leave.  Those things are seen as unnecessary in the world of “total equality” and “meritocracy” that is America, because they’re easily labeled as “special treatment.”

The idea of Mutuality is a way of both trying to make reform within our system but in a revolutionary, radical way.

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Only Today, 2014, Has A Federal Court Ruled To Let LGBT Jurors Hear Trials

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LGBTJuryw354h244

What's next for the right-wing conservatives to try in making this country fair for only white, Christian, and homophobic citizens? Why the justice system, of course. If you can't get a law passed banning anything that prohibits them from excluding balanced, fair or common sense thinking in the jury room, these narrow-minded conservatives may face extinction. And they're not going down without a fight.

Here's the latest from the LA TIMES:

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court became the first in the nation to rule that prospective jurors may not be excluded because of their sexual orientation, a decision that expands juror protections beyond race and gender and provides legal ammunition to challenge laws that limit gay rights.

The sweeping, unanimous decision Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a mixed jury verdict in an antitrust case involving an AIDS drug. The 9th Circuit said the case would have to be retried because an obviously gay juror was unjustifiably excluded from the jury.

Truthfully, I had never heard of the jury system excluding people for sexual orientation, but evidently I was just unaware. Here we are in 2014 and someone's sexual direction could be used against them in a court of law. I know accused criminals have the right to remain silent, but evidently those determining their guilt were supposed to exclude themselves if the crime was federal.

But really there's two issues that I've put in bold print that I find nothing short of amazing. To start with, this case quoted above is the FIRST in the nation to make this discriminatory ruling out of bounds. Really? Only now?

And the second issue is the more important one. "...an obviously gay juror" -- what's an obviously gay juror? Did he/she wear make-up? Did they hit on the same-sex foreman? Did they have a membership card they were flaunting in the RuPaul fan club? What makes someone "obviously gay?"

That's the amazing part of this outrageous but eye-opening story. Until now, if someone looks differently than another person and fits a stereotypical image, they can be excluded from a jury? And according to the article, part of which is quoted below, they still can be.

Lady Justice

I thought justice was blind. Look at Lady Justice balancing her scales. Did you notice something else about her? She's blindfolded. There's a reason for that.

Thankfully the 9th federal circuit court of  appeals court made this first in the nation, unanimous finding. But it only deals with a small portion of this country. It's not national.

Tuesday's landmark ruling extended the restriction to federal courts in California and courts in eight other Western states, lawyers said.

Now let's wake up the rest of the nation. Justice is seriously being challenged.

This particular case had to do with an antitrust lawsuit involving an AIDS drug. For that reason alone, the "obviously gay" juror was dismissed. We allow doctors to sit as jurors on medical trials. We allow lawyers to sit on juries despite perhaps having knowledge not admissible to lay jurors. Why can't we have LGBT jurors sitting in on any case of any origin in any area, AIDS related or not? Aren't they people too?

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Dear Amy -- Thank You For The Smartest Answer To The Stupidest Question

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best advice

I'm not much on advice columns but from time to time I catch a memorable response to a totally ridiculous question. Then I know why people make them part of their daily reading.

Here's the perfect example of what I'm talking about -- both in query and in reply. Kudo's to Amy Dickinson of the Chicago Tribune for nailing it from the start.

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Update: Punishment Meted Out To Methodist Pastor Who Performed Same-Sex Marriage

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Rev Frank Schaefer 2

Earlier this week, I wrote about a disturbing situation where a United Methodist Church official, Pastor Frank Schaefer was tried, by the church for performing a marriage ceremony. A same-sex marriage ceremony. And one of the two participants was Schaefer's own son. You can find it here.

The fabric of families is a fragile one. There are so many issues that can strain relationships, children, parents, grandparents. So when you think of the challenges the Schaefer family had to endure coming to terms of acceptance over gay sexuality for three of Pastor Shaefer's four sons, they all deserve kudos. That's a hurdle of love and understanding if I've ever heard one.

Then, as a sign of his admiration for his father and the church, Tim Schaefer wanted his father to have the honor of  performing the service and administering the sacred vows. He wanted to celebrate with his family, his church and his God. The marriage of two Methodists who wanted to live within the law, not in sin. They were guilty of nothing more than wanting to show their devotion of love to one another, sanctified under the eyes of their God.

What was disturbing is that Rev. Frank has been tried, found guilty and now faces some very stringent punishment. Defrocking is still within the future. An ultimatum has been given. Is it just? You be the judge. Hear it for yourself from Rev. Frank Schaefer on yesterday's News Nation on MSNBC.

The United Methodist Church says it welcomes LGBT members. Isn't it time that they put their faith where their mouth is? Stop punishing men and women of belief who wish to give sanctity to marriage and keep it faith-filled.  Though LGBT sexuality isn't a choice, religion is. The Methodist Church should truly mean what they profess by acceptance, and make that both on and off the pulpit. Let those pastors who believe in ordaining same-sex marriage have their wish. Those who don't needn't be forced into performing those services. But don't leave the flock to wander unwanted. They'll just find a pasture somewhere else. True believers have faith and acceptance in their hearts. That's what Jesus would say, or so I'm told.

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Undying Dedication To A Cause

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Naomi Jakobsson,

She said goodbye to her terminally ill son as she fled off to the state house to cast her vote for a cause that she and her family felt so strongly about-- legalizing same-sex marriage.

Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, a Champaign Illinois Democrat, rushed to the state capitol in Springfield to vote on the measure. With her support, the bill was approved with 61 votes in favor -- only one more than the minimum it needed in order to pass. It was her vote that mattered.

When Jakobsson returned to the Mattoon, Ill. hospice where her dying son, Garret, was staying after a 90-minute drive, she learned he had died just 10 minutes before her arrival, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Garret had seven brothers and sisters. He and his wife, Liz, also had a 10-year-old son named Gunnar. Garret was adopted from South Korea in 1968, according to the AP.

All of Garret's family was with him as he took his last breaths are reportedly slipped away peacefully. But how tragic that his mother couldn't be with him for the end. She put courage, faith and compassion above family. She is a true Democrat. Is there one Republican who would have done the same?

It was reported that it was Jakobsson's son Garrett who told his mother to go to cast her vote. If it wasn't something so meaningful, she'd never have left his side. She left with hopes she could go, vote, and return in time. That sadly was not going to be the case.

There are a lot of people in Illinois, today and in the future, who owe their happiness to Representative Naomi Jakobsson. A truer champion for the LGBT cause would be hard to find.

Condolences to the family and congratulations to the state to have such a dedicated civil servant.

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Not Passing Same Sex Marriage In Hawaii Will Cost $2.17 Billion in Lost Revenue

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Hawaii

If the Republicans have their way in Hawaii, nobody's going to get lei'd.

Republicans in Hawaii say they don't care. They're adamant about not passing same sex marriage in their state of Hawaii. And their reason? Don't have one. From KITV-News, throwing away $2.17 Billion should be something they think long and hard about when their state stays solvent on tourism dollars.

According to Yahoo statistics:

Nearly 8 million travelers — 7,998,815, to be exact — visited the islands in 2012. That's an increase of nearly 10 per cent over the previous year. It also breaks the previous record of 7.6 million visitors marked in 2006, before the financial crisis and recession encouraged travelers to stay home.

Travelers spent a record $14.3 billion in Hawaii last year. This is nearly 19 per cent more than they spent in 2011 and it beats the annual spending record of $12.8 billion marked in 2007.

The agency expects continued growth this year, with the visitors expected to exceed 8 million in 2013 and spending forecast to top $14.8 billion.

What's at stake here is a lot of money as well as justice. When Prop 8 was struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year, the signal had been sent out that laws against same-sex marriage were discriminatory. Evidently the word hasn't gotten out as far as Hawaii yet. Or maybe they just mis-heard the Conch Shell message. At least by those Republicans in the Hawaiian state legislature.

The amazing thing is that the financially strapped state makes a majority of its money in the tourism business. 80% of commerce on the islands is tourism related. Without the millions of guests annually, the state could not exist.

So what would happen if same-sex marriage were to become legal in our 50th State? Most likely a huge bounce in wedding destinations. With those weddings come guests. With the guests, come spending. Huge increased revenue.

As it is, Hawaii is considered a premiere honeymoon destination. Think now if all of those couples were to have their whole wedding parties in the state, holding services there as well. They would need to build more islands just to hold the overflow.

It's time for the republicans, who are the ones trying to stack the legislative committee to rule against this bill coming to the floor to stop and take an assessment of what they're doing. The entire state's economy is predicated on strong tourism. All they have to do is what's right and fair. It's bad enough they discriminate against their own Native Hawaiian people. They must fix that and at the same time, do what's best for all who live and work in Hawaii.

rainbow

Show your colors. The rainbow of colors. Legalize same sex marriage and reap the rewards.

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Proof Any Boy Can Grow Up To Be Queen

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Steven Sanchez

Happily there's something positive to report outside of the government shutdown and debt-ceiling limits seemingly under control. This time it's not based on hatred and ignorance (the Tea Party) but on acceptance. With the spotlight on Russia and it's anti-tolerance movement for anyone gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgendered, the University of Northern Iowa crowned it's first transgendered homecoming queen. We can safely project that THIS couldn't happen in today's oppressive, intolerant, Russia.

We need to be happy that it did here. It will not only send a message with its public attention to the intolerant folks here but also to nations around the world - you are who you are - it's not a choice, but preordained determination.

The message is we may suck at running our government (that's a fringe Republican choice), but we're also enlightened and free enough to accept everyone for who they are inside, not just on the out. THE DAILY BEAST

There were ten students on the University of Northern Iowa’s stage, all clad in the school's colors of purple and gold—five competing for homecoming queen and five for homecoming king. The announcer hovered over each student to build up suspense. And then, history was made: Steven Sanchez, 21, a “transgender queer” who identifies as both male and female, was crowned homecoming queen.

The road to the Homecoming crown was filled with adversity and huge challenges.

Sanchez’s homecoming win was even more epic when you consider his past. Raised by his grandparents in San Antonio, Texas, he was bullied mercilessly in middle school—and even attempted suicide. The bullying has had a “massive effect” in Sanchez’s life, even to this day. “One of thing that would be discoursing for me is that whenever I would make a little bit of progress with my self-esteem or my self-image or anything like that—or even other things like I would do well in school—I would belittled it or acted like it didn’t matter because I had this idea driven into my head that I wasn’t worth anything, so it made it hard to see that I had worth," he said..

This isn't an isolated event. Earlier this year, as reported by Reuters:

(Reuters) - A 16-year-old transgender girl (Cassidy Lynn Campbell) said on Sunday (September 22,2013) she experienced "ultimate joy" when it was announced she would be crowned homecoming queen at her Southern California high school.

Ah, the benefits of riding it out through adversity. Congratulations to Steven and Cassidy and all others who have found themselves "trapped" or bullied for realizing who they really are. You never know, but more acceptance here in this country may even exert pressure on Putin and the Russian's Politburo before the Winter Olympics. It's a far long-shot, but we're getting the word out there. We can be one world, tolerant and accepting. And it can be a much better world.

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