Why Gay Voters Must Keep Asking About Gay Rights!

Posted on 12/23/2007. Filed under: for my wife, glaad, glbt rights, lgbt rights, politics |

I had planned to do a piece on how I am not a single issue voter and all the different issues I care about and demand answers on from elected officials and candidates. After reading an article from Newsweek, I changed my mind. You can call me a single-issue voter all you want and I don’t give a damn. I know I am not but since so many of the GLBT Community are not in a position where they can speak out, I will continue to speak out LOUD and CLEAR about the issues that are unique to our community and demand Equal Rights for All People.

The article from Newsweek tells the story of a Lesbian couple whose world was destroyed by death and how the surviving partner was treated as dirt by the hospital and the funeral home. “
Frantic efforts produced a pulse. An ambulance raced Fleming to the hospital, with Strong close behind. At the door of the hospital emergency room, a social worker informed her that only family members were allowed inside. When Strong protested that she was Fleming’s partner, the social worker said that under Washington state law, same-sex partners did not qualify as family. Only an urgent call to Fleming’s sister in Virginia cleared the way to get Strong through the doors. Ninety minutes later, Fleming died, with Strong at her side.

The nightmare didn’t end there. The next day the man handling the funeral arrangements insisted on dealing with Fleming’s mother, though Strong told him she was Fleming’s spouse. “He said, ‘You don’t have any rights in the state of Washington’.” says Strong. “I left the room and started crying.”

Together for 10 years, the couple had held a commitment ceremony that was not officially binding but a symbol of their relationship. “Kate was my wife, and I was her wife, and that’s the way we always thought of each other,” said Strong.

The second night after Fleming’s death, an anguished Strong lay awake, replaying the harrowing scenes in her mind—the flood, the hospital, the funeral home. Though still in shock, her rage was mounting. “I could handle someone calling me a homo,” she told NEWSWEEK. “But saying you don’t count, that’s something that had to change.””

This just one case in thousands where lovers or partners are treated as trash by hospitals, funeral homes, and even by the families of their lovers. I have had friends lose the rights to see their children after a partner died because only one name could be listed on the adoption papers due to the state they lived in. I have several friends who have lost the homes they built together with a loved one after the family had the will over-turned in a court of law. Until all couples have the same 1,138 rights and protections offered under the law to “straight married” couples, there is legal discrimination in America.

Charlene Strong’ quit her job and took up the fight for Equal Rights for All People in Washington state. A documentary has been made telling her story and will be released to selected film festivals next month.

“The film, “For My Wife,” will be released at selected film festivals next month. Strong, who plans to help promote the film, will also travel to New York where she will get training as a public speaker and activist from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “Charlene has a powerful story that resonates with people,” says GLAAD President Neil Giuliano. “That’s why she’s very compelling.””

This is one of the reasons I speak out so forcefully about GLBT issues even in a state where I know most people are more conservative-even Democrats- and where the conversation is not always welcome. This type of tragedy has to stop being allowed to happen. It is time for the GLBT activist and their allies to speak out and keep speaking out until the laws in all states are changed. We will never end prejudice but we can end legalized discrimination.

We have come a long way in the 34 years I have been out by we still have a long way to go. The fight is not over and this soldier is willing to fight till his last breath to end this injustice in America and the World.

Loving Family


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