Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you.
Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.
Your people will be my people and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.
May the God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.
-Book of Ruth 1:16-17

On Saturday, September 19, 2015 I married two of my best friends Andrunnamedea and Cindy in holy matrimony in Appleton, WI.  Having been ordained since 2009, I truly never thought I'd ever get the chance to use these credentials until they asked me a few months back.  Although my answer was an automatic yes, I sought out to make sure that my homily and the imparting words of advice I gave them on their special day was something unique and not always heard at wedding ceremonies. 

When they had their commitment ceremony years ago, they asked me to write a poem and recite it during the ceremony.  I subsequently sought out to discover and write about a truth I hold very close to my heart: love.  I did the same when I began writing my homily but this time instead of trying to define love like I did with my poem I decided to write a short story about love.  

I'm happy to share it with you here today because at the end of the day, no matter what political pundits are saying on the campaign trail or what new horrible thing is befaling the LGBTQ community, love truly did win on June 26, 2015 and nothing can nor will stop LGBTQ people from committing themselves to each other in legal wedded bliss.

A Short Story About Love
Now it is my turn to impart a piece of monumental wisdom upon two individuals that have impacted my life and whom I consider not only friends but also family.

It isn’t everyday two of your best friends ask you to say something at their wedding but then it also isn’t everyday they then also ask you to marry them too.   So, true to form and like with all good things that are supposed to have a meaning behind the meaning, I’m going to start with a story of two married fish.

You see, there were once these two married fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way. The older fish nods at them and says: “Morning! How’s the water?” And the two married fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over and says to the other: “What the hell is water?”*

A few years back, I wrote a poem about love; like with all poetry and creative forms of expression, it stemmed from a real place, a memory, and feeling. The one problem with that poem though was that I tried to define, pinpoint, and label what love was supposed to be.

We often forget that we don’t live in a vacuum. The real world has a stark and sometimes-cruel way of reminding us of what’s around us and sometimes the world that we thought we knew isn’t the one that we see. However, the one thing that becomes blatantly clear here is the choice we are all given and have to seek out and change the world we see.
As gay people sometimes we’re lucky enough to have a family that is open and accepting and then sometimes we’re not. If the result is the latter, we each then have a choice to seek out and see a world that feels unaccepting and make it into something that is filled with love, laughter, and of course a dance partner that we both choose to love and build a family and life with.  

Upon finding your other half, you begin to build a life, create a family, build a home, have children, and a career; perhaps that career changes but you begin to move and mold not only yourself but now also your partner and family that you’ve built as a result and you work on defining what love means to you and your family. You begin to go through the motions each day: waking up, going to work, coming home and doing the countless other tasks that often take up a majority of our time but in the end aren’t really the things in life that end up defining us or the families we've built. 

When I asked you two to describe one another Andrea said Cindy is her protector and Cindy said Andrea is the strength that holds their family together.  I first met Andrea at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater when she was my assistant hall director and I subsequently met Cindy while she was a police officer for the university. Andrea represented strength from day one, being a Wells West Hall Director will do that you and Cindy, being a police officer, well need I say more about her penchant for protectiveness. As the years went on I saw two individuals who both represented what they saw and wanted in a partner but also two people who became models for the way in which I, and many others, started to define how we wanted to live our lives and therefore define our own versions of love.

That’s the funny thing about love: you never know where you’re going to find it, how you’ll define it, or where it’s going to take you. Love truly is fleeting and at times, as the years go on, it is easy to forget that in your marriage, in the bond you have both here today and for years to come, that you have to remind yourself of the love you felt when you first saw each other through the mass exodus of Whitewater students as they crowded out of the residence hall at 3:00 am thanks to that ever constant fire alarm that rang in the middle of the night.  Then ten, twenty, and thirty years down the road when Cal and Cooper are older and out of the house and you two are left, swimming along together again as partners in life and love.  

It’s easy to get bogged down; to forget that a marriage is living bond that grows and expands each day as you two grow together. It’s easy to forget that the world we exist in and fashion is full of love and that it is present within the person and family you’ve created around you, even if you forget or become complacent with the world around you. Staying aware of the real value of marriage is the bond of love that you create here today and that it will always surround you and that you will have to remind yourself each day to immerse yourself in it or you'll run the risk of forgetting why you chose each other other in the first place.   

Remind yourselves about how you define love is the real value of a real marriage, which is why it almost never has nothing to do with a contract or religious dogmatism. Awareness of what love is in a marriage is the key to success, remembering what is so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over again, much like the two married fish swimming along together, who have grown unaware of the world around them, that the water in which they are swimming in, is the world, the love, and the lives they once created but perhaps had forgotten along their journey. When we’re married we have to remind ourselves that the vows we take is the love we want to see both in the world and in the eyes of the other individual you are vowing to love until your last day: If we forget this, we too run the risk of becoming the two married fish unaware of their surroundings.

It is unimaginably hard to this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet again that the grand cliché turns out to be true: your marriage really IS the job of a lifetime and it commences now.*  Start reminding yourself today that this, what we have here right now, is love; say it to yourself, in your head, or carry it in your heart each day so you know that no matter where you may travel or what may happen in the future that the greatest gift in life is to be loved and love in return.

Andrea and Cindy, I wish you way more than luck: I wish you love.
*Foster Wallace, David. "This is Water." Metastatic. Web. 21 Sept. 2015. .
*Foster Wallace, David. "Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commenc." Kenyon College. May 2005. Web. 21 Sept. 2015. .

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

Kim Davis, the defiant county clerk, is currently sitting in isolation in a jail cell after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky even after she was ordered by a judge to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage or be held in contempt of court.

Everywhere I turn on both social media or in person people are talking about Ms. Davis, her actions, personal history and for some weird reason her hair and looks.   I’m all for individuals taking a virulent stand against an individual who chooses to not upload the law of the land as well as continually acting in an unjust discriminatory way but bringing her looks or anything else about her physical appearance into the narrative is not only just plain wrong it is sexism in its worst form.

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The old saying goes: “two wrongs don’t make a right.” As a community, we must come together now more than ever to correct the wrongs we see occurring in the world disguised as religious freedom and make sure that we are both holding to the strictest of standards and the morality that many in the religious right claim we lack.

Although conservative religious individuals and political pundits are claiming the current American zeitgeist is being monopolized by liberal, left-wing policies that demoralize and destroy the current state of American society, it is in the narrative of sexism and body shaming where the lines of who is standing on the right and wrong sides of history gets blurred.

Since Davis is arguing her case on moral grounds it is completely valid to bring in her past personal indiscretions into account. Her lack of respect or follow through for what she believes to be the holy and sanctimonious institutions exemplifies the hypocrisy of the religious right and those now claiming that they have the right to refuse service or other items to LGBT individuals.

What is wrong is the way in which we as a community, (although completely just and right), haven’t learned that the same hateful and poisonous language so often thrown our way by individuals, groups, and now Presidential hopefuls, only keeps us on their same bigoted and ignorant levels. No one is telling Kim Davis that she cannot have her religious beliefs but what she is being told is that she cannot hold an office where she takes an oath to uphold the law only to pick and choose what laws she wishes to uphold. Kim Davis is a bigot but she still deserves the same right to believe whatever she wants to believe, no matter how wrong it may seem, just as much as we are now, finally, after such a long, arduous fight, have the right to marry.

I always wondered why my favorite U.S. Supreme Court decision was Reynolds v. United States. Looking back upon it, I see how it applies to so many decisions that have both adversely and advantageously effected the struggles both the LGBT and feminist communities experienced when trying to achieve full equality under the law. An individual can believe whatever they want to believe but when those actions inflict undue harm onto others, they are breaking the law, taking away another person’s rights and creating a world where government exists in name only and where people can pick and choose which laws to follow or not.
Screen-shot-2015-09-02-at-2.45.41-PM-360x360Kim Davis does need a lot of things but saying of suggesting that she needs a haircut, a makeover, or even to lose weight, makes you and those that continue to repeat it no better than she is; to state such statements doesn’t purport the ideal that #LoveWins, which took over social media just mere months ago, but changes the whole narrative to symbolize that sexism and hate are more important than love and equality.