Equally Nudged: A Plea for Lasting Domestic Partnership Despite Gay Marriage Gains

domestic-partnership-certificateSexy Feminist co-founder Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s domestic partner, A. Jesse Jiryu Davis, argues for the Defense of Domestic Partnership in this guest post. (Yes, that’s our domestic partnership certificate there, and, yes, we both have a lot of name confusion. You can learn all about that here.) 

My girlfriend and I are gay-married. That’s how we joke about it to friends. We’re a straight couple, but we got domestic-partnered July 17th last year. We’d moved into an apartment together the day before. As soon as we’d gotten all our boxes into the new flat on 14th Street and had a night’s sleep, we took the muggy subway to the New York City Clerk’s office and got ourselves hitched.

We got our domestic partnership as soon as possible because my girlfriend, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, is a freelance writer. Health insurance for freelancers is ruinously, unjustly expensive. New Yorkers have the substantial advantage of the Freelancers Union’s group plans, but even so, minimal health insurance with the Freelancers Union costs ten times what it would cost us to add Jennifer to my generous corporate health plan. To add her, we had to be spouses or domestic partners. We don’t want to marry now, if ever, so we chose domestic partnership.

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Links for Sexy Feminists: Wendy Davis, Paula Deen, and more

Beyond Marriage: Some fresh takes on what the next focus of the gay rights movement should be. And a fine perspective on how the feminist movement can learn from the successes of the campaign for gay marriage.

Camp for Feminism: A weeklong program for girls to explore what feminism means in the twenty-first century points out that being anti-feminist is now more acceptable than being homophobic.

Go Wendy!: In all the hubbub over the SCOTUS decisions on gay marriage last week, we neglected to mention Wendy Davis’s fillibuster. For those who missed this, the Amazon page on the sneakers she wore is now a tribute to her. This article highlights two reviews that speak to very serious aspects of the laws on abortion.

Safe Choices: This woman’s story of a wanted pregnancy and child illuminates why we need to make sure human reproduction remains a woman’s choice. Writing from a delighted father’s perspective, Rob Delaney points out what should be obvious: that no man does the hard part of birthing a child, ever. Meanwhile, those of us in the U.S. face extremely high medical costs for even a normal pregnancy.

Triggering Comments: We were delighted to see Kotaku take a strong stand on comments that target a particular group, such as women or transgendered individuals. Hopefully other sites will follow suit.

In Solidarity: Women in Egypt risk being raped while they protest in Tahrir Square.

Paula Deen’s Scandal: The Southern hospitality mogul’s personal brand has suffered seriously since allegations of her company’s racism emerged. Yes, it is that bad. Yet in the public outcry of support for her, there are interesting insights about what “white America” really thinks about racism–pointing towards ways to change for the better.

Politics of Inclusion: Feminism is not, and should not be, solely about white women.

The End of DOMA and Prop 8: Why We Were Finally Ready

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image13726342In 2004, when gay and lesbian couples began marrying on the San Francisco courthouse steps, nervous Democrats worried that the spectacle of wedded bliss would turn future elections against them. They cautioned against being too supportive of gay causes, lest mythical “middle America” be turned off by too much enjoyment of equality.
Hard electoral losses in 2004 were credited largely to opportunistic bigot groups pushing state anti-gay measures to turn out the Republican base. Conservative Democrats were quick to say I Told You So.
“I believe it did energize a very conservative vote,” Senator Dianne Feinstein said at the time. “I think it gave them a position to rally around. I’m not casting a value judgment. I’m just saying I do believe that’s what happened.”
“So I think that whole issue has been too much, too fast, too soon,” she added. “And people aren’t ready for it.”
It only took ten years for marriage equality to go from political poison to electorally essential.
Twelve states, the District of Columbia and five Native American tribes now permit same-sex marriages, including the Midwest states of Iowa and Minnesota. Democratic lawmakers now routinely tout gay rights records during elections. The sitting vice president, then the president and first lady, all publicly supported it and were greeted not with shock or scandal but with shrugs of “it’s about time.”
What happened?
First, the simple passage of time. The electorate is getting younger and less socially conservative, as well as less demographically rigid. Young people voting for the first or second time aren’t concerned with who’s sexing whom, and they think your concern over it is more than a little creepy. Those legislators who can read the polls realize this country isn’t going back to the ’50s, no matter how loudly they shout about Adam and Steve.
For another, the world has gotten smaller. Our greater technological connectedness ensures that we see one another’s lives more clearly. The greater presence of out gay and lesbian people in media, as well as greater attention to the dangers of bullying and forcing people to hide who they are, can touch even those who do not personally know an openly gay person.
And last, gay people have gotten married, and the earth has not caved in. The skies have not fallen. Serpents have not begun to speak in human tongues, or whatever the hell apocalyptic scenario was supposed to ensue. Brave men and women, American heroes all, stood up proudly with those they loved and declared their intentions to build a life together.

We were always ready, it turned out, for that.

Bringing Down DOMA, Putting Prop 8 in its Rightful Place

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-same-sex-marriage-image29055416As the token gay lady at Sexy Feminist, I am especially ecstatic to share my thoughts on the Supreme Court’s rulings today.

To fully illustrate my glee on today’s decisions, I direct you to this little meme from Buzzfeed.

Seriously, my first thought is: finally. (As well as a huge sigh of relief.)

Not only was the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) deemed unconstitutional, but the court also dismissed California’s Proposition 8 case. The latter truly surprised me. My initial prediction was that the justices would strike down DOMA, but leave the notorious proposition alone. While long-term effects of the Prop 8 decision are a bit vague, it is clear to me that the court declared that the petitioners do not legal standing. In essence, the Supreme Court has validated the lower courts that have rejected Prop 8.

Now, I’m hopeful that with both positive outcomes, our country’s justice system will pave the way for future progress. That is to say it will be much harder (if not impossible) to defend discriminatory laws still on the books in individual states.

And for the states that have already legalized same-sex marriages, the defeat of DOMA carries an extra significance: your marriage is now federally recognized. (I think this calls for a second wedding and/or honeymoon, right?)

And speaking of the Feds, the President did not disappoint me. Obama released a statement on the landmark decision. The money quote: “The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”

To paraphrase my latest Facebook status, I knew I would live to see this moment, I just didn’t know it would come so soon. The snowball that began rolling at the beginning of my formative years is now a bona fide avalanche. In the decade plus since I’ve come out, I’ve witnessed the airings of “Queer as Folk” and “The L Word,” Massachusetts legalizing same-sex marriage, Ellen DeGeneres becoming a household name, the defeat of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; my home state of New Jersey legalizing civil unions, my residence of New York legalizing same-sex marriage, and today, the highest court in the land validating it all.

Now, as MC Hammer once rapped, we’re too legit to quit—in every sense of the phrase.

Links for Sexy Feminists: Gay Marriage, Transgender Rights, and more

Marriage Equality!: The SCOTUS has ruled that married gay and lesbian couples are eligible for the federal benefits of marriage. The ruling is not a total victory, since a couple who moved to an anti-gay marriage state could still lose state recognition. Yet the victory is monumental for this lesbian couple and others in which one party is not an American citizen.

Breaking Up: Why the way many women console their girlfriends after a breakup is spectacularly unhelpful.

Pro-Eating: Why do even the most body-positive women still feel the need to eat in secret?

Transgender Rights: Adorable first grader Coy won the right to use her school’s girls’ bathroom, in accordance with her gender identity.

Anti-Feminism: The anti-feminist right wing has taken on a new tactic: rebranding themselves as “freedom feminists.” Ugh.

Media Studies: Writing for the Nation, Jessica Valenti does an excellent job of critiquing media for taking the male perspective as the norm. On a lighter note, see if you can recognize yourself in this charming little cartoon on the pitfalls of feminist self-awareness–as one commentator notes, this just shows why we need more representation of female characters.

Women in the World: Amnesty International issued a statement in support of feminist protesters in Libya who created and circulated a controversial cartoon in favor of women’s rights. In nearby Morocco, local and European women gathered in solidarity with the Saharawi women. On a different note, Bloomberg profiles Jennifer Li, a Chinese woman with a high-flying business career.

Feminism, Fawning Bimbos, and True Love in ‘Before Midnight’

SONY-BDOS-01_Onesheet4.16.13_Layout 1No matter how feminist he may be, a man still loves a fawning bimbo.

Or at least that’s what Celine claims in Before Midnight, the third installment in  the Richard Linklater-directed series starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, which follows Celine and Jesse’s epic romance. That romance began in 1995’s Before Sunrise, when Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) are 20-somethings who meet on a train and decide to spend the night together wandering Vienna. They don’t exchange contact information, but agree to meet six months later.

In  2004’s Before Sunset, set nine years later, we catch up with them in Paris. Jesse is now a successful writer, and Celine works as an environmental activist. They never met as promised, though Jesse uses their night in Vienna as the plot for his bestselling novel. His book tour takes him to Paris, and that is how Celine finds him. They spend the film reconnecting, but there is a big obstacle – Jesse is married with a child. Unhappily married, but still. Nonetheless, as the film ends, they may get together.
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Links for Sexy Feminists: Against “Dieting”, Safer Sweatshops, Women Vote in Pakistan, More

Against the “Diet”: A poignantly inspiring tale of a woman who watched her father waste away due to self starvation and vows to embrace her own plus -ize figure. If you’re ever at a loss for body positivity, may we recommend reading and rereading this compilation of advice from fat women who love their curves. Meanwhile, having broken the “We don’t want fat people” Abercrombie story, Business Insider charts a precipitous drop in the brand’s popularity following the story.

Safer Sweatshops: On the other end of the fashion cycle, we were encouraged to hear that several prominent retailers are committing to improve factory conditions in Bangladesh.

Rethinking Choice: One woman’s interesting take on the semantic argument between “Life” and “Choice.”

Surprise!: Greater access to and education about birth control leads to fewer abortions. Interestingly, education in the study led many women to conclude that an IUD was the right choice for them, suggesting that the long-term solution may be underused.

Sex Positivity: Thanks to Jezebel for this primer on the so-called “looseness” of the vulva. NSFW.

Mommy Life: One woman’s story about coming to terms with postpartum depression and accepting that her husband could be the better caregiver at the beginning.

Activism Works: The Florida teen whose science experiment caused a minor explosion has had charges dropped after internet activists accused the accusers of racism. Meanwhile, though Disney has publicly backed down from its Merida makeover, only time will tell if they’re changing her back.

Women in the World: Pakistani women braved threats of violence to vote this past weekend, while Kuwaiti women are gaining grounds for athletic competition. Coming from a different religious perspective, Israel has struck down the mandate that women and men be segregated on public bus rides through conservative neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Canadian students created this funny and thought-provoking spoof of gender roles in advertising.

The (Gay) Marriage Choice

I have a question: Does anyone really care why total strangers choose to get married? I feel like I know the answer to this one—it’s a big resounding no.

Recently I read a statement about commitment posted on Facebook that really resonated with me. It said, “Commitment is doing the thing you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has left you.”

In light of the recent arguments heard by the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA and Proposition 8, it seemed fitting to remind people that at the end of the day, marriage is a choice. The idea of partnering with another human being and sharing your life with theirs is not an involuntary action. While I deeply believe that love is not a choice, the decision to commit to that love is.

I have a second question: Even if  (and please note the emphasis on “if”) being gay was a choice, how would it seriously impact marriage? I think we all know the answer to this one, too.

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Links for Sexy Feminists: Real Beauty, Anorexia, Girl Geeks, and more

Real Beauty:  We posted last week about Dove’s latest ad campaign, but The Frisky has a great article about issues the ad raises.  Writing for the Houston Press, Abby Koenig says that even if you find the ads problematic, they’re a step in the right direction.  Her article also discusses the controversial “You Are Not A Sketch” campaign, which Dodai Stewart of Jezebel says “passes the buck and misses the point.”

The Point Being: Speaking of anorexia, modeling scouts in Sweden apparently recruit from a clinic for those suffering from the disease.  Ick.

Girls and Geeks: The two terms aren’t mutually exclusive at all, of course.  But a great post by a guy about wanting to play videogames with his 9-year-old daughter is both sweet and thought-provoking.

Women Are Hilarious: And one of our favorite funny feminists, Katie Goodman, needs your help to get to Edinburgh Fringe.

Feminism in Action: A new UK arts project attempts to get us all thinking about how our feminism is part of everyday life.

Catcall Patrol: Writer Emmie Mears on why catcalls feel threatening.

Sex and Gender: After a recent post which compared a woman refusing sex with her husband to child neglect, NYMag has an appropriately eye-rolling response.  It’s worth mentioning that one of the experts quoted in the original article was talking about sexual desire irrespective of gender, and that’s clear in the article itself.





Leaning In to Rethink Marriage

After an initial rage of criticism, Sheryl Sandberg has steadily gained ground in both feminist and corporate circles. Lean In has been reviewed from every possible angle, and the book is actually a good, quick, entertaining, informative, and sometimes shocking read, which I highly recommend – but yet another review is not what you are waiting for. Instead, it’s time we tackle that other aspect of the dreaded term “work-life-balance.” Forgoing the temptation to criticize this strange terminology, as if work is not inherently part of life rather than juxtaposed to it (a point indeed made in Lean In), let’s focus on family life for a bit. And when it comes to gender issues, that automatically means the central role society assigns to marriage and motherhood, more than anything else, in the lives of women.

With discussions going on and on about equal marriage rights in the United States, a letter by “Princeton Mom” (and alumna) Susan Patton urging female college students to look for a husband while in university, and a recently posted CNN article about American couples living together without being married (shocking!), it is clear that marriage in the United States is still viewed as a sacred tradition and a number one priority – for women.

I have followed the arguments with a growing sense of discomfort – not to say downright shock. Time for some common sense.

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