Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oklahoma Republican Governor Mary Fallin Denies Benefits to All National Guard to Discriminate Against Gay Members

Oklahoma has a defense to fall back on. The state elected a governor who, on her very first day in office, swore “to offend” the United States constitution. We can fault Fallin for many things. But we certainly can’t accuse her of going back on her word.  (Mark Joseph Stern, Slate)
When I first heard this, I was appalled, but then I stop to think that Governor Fallin had just announced her re-election bid and needs to shore up the hard right base to get re-elected so no one from the Tea Party challenges her. Do I think she is that shallow?  You be the judge by reading the letter at the end of this post that was sent to her by the good friend of her daughter who happens to be gay.
Just waiting for the challenge to Oklahoma's DOMA to get to the SCOTUS and be overturned.  Will pop some popcorn and watch the implosion of the hard right who have some of the nastiest people I have ever met.  This defies good judgement of an elected official IMHO:
NOV. 20 2013 11:39 AM
Republican Governor Denies Benefits to All Soldiers to Discriminate Against Gay Ones
By Mark Joseph Stern
Constitution, schmonstitution: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.
Photo by Sue Ogrocki-Pool/Getty Images
When Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin was sworn into office, she promised in her oath to “offend the Constitution of the United States.” Many at the time assumed it was a blunder. But as it turns out, Gov. Fallin is true to her word. 
In September, Fallin vowed to prohibit Oklahoma’s National Guard from providing benefits to married same-sex couples, directly violating a Pentagon directive and a presidential decree. Now, after a Pentagon pushback, Fallin has doubled down, cutting spousal benefits for the entire Oklahoma National Guard, including straight couples. The Republican governor, in other words, would rather deny every soldier benefits than grant a few gay ones the rights they have been federally guaranteed. Her painfully mangled logic:
Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people. 
Not to harp on the point, but this notion is so deliriously erroneous, so undeniably and doltishly wrong, that I can’t quite believe Fallin believes it herself. The military’s policy of providing spousal benefits to same-sex couples is not a gentle suggestion. It is a federal mandate, prompted by the president himself, extending from the Pentagon to each (federally funded, federally supervised) National Guard base. It doesn’t matter whether the policy violates Oklahoma’s constitution: The Constitution of the United States declares in Article VI that “the laws of the United States ... shall be the supreme law of the land,” regardless of “the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary.” By presidential decree, the laws of the United States now require spousal benefits for gay soldiers; following that order is a constitutional requirement. And the federal constitution is not something a state governor can simply toss aside when it doesn’t suit her viciously homophobic beliefs.  
The author of this article may be wrong in one area -- some elected officials in Oklahoma including the Governor and Attorney General seem to feel state law trumps federal law.  If they don't mean it, they do a good job of convincing many Oklahomans that is what they believe.  How many other states keep passing laws that the State Supreme Court finds unconstitutional that end up at SCOTUS on appeal and they refuse to hear?  Bet Oklahoma trumps most states.  We just had two abortion bills that SCOTUS refused to hear that our Attorney General didn't like the ruling from the Oklahoma Supremes so they took it to SCOTUS and got rejected again. Now Republicans in Oklahoma want to do away with the manner judges are chosen in the State.  Typical Republican response -- don't get the outcome you want so change the laws.

When our family first moved here from Texas due to the closure of the Kelly depot, I complained about how archaic Oklahoma Republicans were -- little I did I expect them to get worse with the Tea Party and go back even more in time.   Governor Keating who was Governor when we arrived was famous for inserting foot in mouth when it came to teachers.  At my daughter's high school I talked to a lot of teachers who were Republican but never would vote for Keating with his anti-education agenda and his total lack of regard for teachers.  Gov Fallin was his Lt Governor.  She has the same stance on education and probably worse as her Administration touts charter schools.

The hatred of gays by the Republicans in Oklahoma go beyond anything I have seen from pulling books off the library shelves to demanding banners be taken down, and just being plain hateful.  I am still trying to figure out why -- are Oklahoma Republicans so entrenched in the hateful evangelical community that they only see their narrow view and forget that gays are people.   Many of the Tea Party not only hate gays but hate minorities.  We have had some of the nastiest bills against immigration submitted in our legislature that I have ever seen.  Then there are the attacks on women's rights.  The Good Old Boy system is alive and well in the Oklahoma Legislature and in many parts of the state.

In 2010 at a Norman City Council Meeting, an agenda item appeared concerning issuing a proclamation declaring October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in Norman. The meeting turned into some of the nastiest comments ever with some comments coming from people who didn't live here. Norman has a contingent of hard right conservatives led by a person who doesn't live in Norman who loves to attack Norman. Same person who led the nasty fight against changing the Christmas parade to Holiday parade.  Had first hand experience how nasty this group of angry hard right Republicans can get.  Cannot even fathom sitting through this City Council meeting.

What is sad that the one person, Dan Quinn, who voted against the proclamation was retired as the principal at Norman North High School -- suffice it to say that the Mother of my daughter's good friend had a lot to say about Quinn and how he ran things and none of it positive starting when the girls were Freshman. The fact that he was the lone dissenter does not surprise me.  Norman has a member of the City Council who is openly gay and is treated like everyone else.  We have a city council today that looks forward and don't see the messy politics I saw for the last 8-10 years here.  This council seems to work together.

Times are changing just like Norman and the University of Oklahoma did in the 1950's when Prentice Gault became the first black to play OU football.  Maybe this tragic incident of this young gay man was a wake-up call in Norman.  I can only hope that people look in the mirror and realize that gays are people just like you and me.  IMHO it is not my place to judge someone else no more then others have a right to judge me on what I do with my life.  The prejudice against gays at this City Council meeting and what this student went through after he came out he was gay, shouldn't happen to anyone.  I know today that the Norman schools are very pro-active in insuring that everyone is treated fairly.  Can only hope that parents instill in their students that no one has a right to be bullied no matter what.
October 10, 2010North grad took own life after week of 'toxic' commentsBy Andrew KnittleThe Norman Transcript 
NORMAN — A week after attending a Norman City Council meeting where a heated debate played out in public, 19-year-old Zach Harrington took his own life at his family’s home in Norman. 
At the Sept. 28 meeting Harrington attended at City Hall, the council acknowledged receipt of a proclamation recognizing October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in the city. Council voted 7 to 1 in favor of it, with only Councilman Dan Quinn casting a nay vote. 
Support for and opposition to the proclamation were fairly even and the public comment portion of the agenda item lasted for three hours — the entire time allotted. 
The entire process was an exercise in representative government, with both sides — and those in between — given their chance to speak their minds. 
One man said he moved to Norman because he thought it was the kind of place that would never accept the GLBT community with open arms. A woman, who described herself as “bi-racial,” said she was tired of the GLBT plight being compared to Civil Rights. 
Some of those who opposed the proclamation claimed that members of the GLBT community would use it to infiltrate the public school system, essentially allowing the “gay lifestyle” to become a part of the curriculum. 
Others claimed that council recognizing October as GLBT History Month was a waste of their time. Some members of the audience even suggested that any council members voting in favor of the proclamation may have trouble getting reelected. 
Numerous residents also claimed the Bible was their guiding light, citing the ancient text as their primary reason for opposing the proclamation and the GLBT community in general.
And for those in attendance, it was hard to ignore the intolerant grumblings, the exasperated sighs and cold, hard stares that followed comments from supporters of the GLBT proclamation. 
Even most council members admitted that a majority of the e-mails and phone calls they fielded regarding the proclamation were against it. 
Harrington’s family, who described him as a private young man who internalized his feelings and emotions, said it was this “toxic” environment at the Sept. 28 council meeting that may have pushed their gay son and brother over the edge. 
Nikki Harrington, Zach’s older sister, said her brother likely took all of the negative things said about members of the GLBT community straight to heart. 
“When he was sitting there, I’m sure he was internalizing everything and analyzing everything … that’s the kind of person he was,” she said. “I’m sure he took it personally. Everything that was said.”
Read More at The Norman Transcript 
We now have a Governor who not only took a stand against gays in the National Guard but she is the recipient of a letter from a good friend of her daughter's who is gay.  Obviously that letter made no impression as she pulled this stunt for her reelection.  What does that say about the Governor of Oklahoma?  Not much except she is a puppet of the hard right.  How can anyone receive this letter and act the way Governor Fallin does against gays that is now influencing heterosexual couples in the OK National Guard as well?  Some of these people consider themselves the only true Christians which makes me shake my head as they are always right even when it hurts others:
Dear Gov. Mary Fallin, 
I hope that this letter finds you well, and that your day is off to a great start. You may not remember me, so allow me to reintroduce myself to you. I'm Dillon Peña, a former friend and acquaintance of your daughter Christina. I've been to your house in northwest Oklahoma City. I've been to a festival at the Oklahoma River with you. I've broken bread and had dinner with you at Red Rock, and you have even been to church with me. Although I am currently a New York City resident, Oklahoma remains the home of my heart. 
I am an Oklahoma fan through and through. I cheer for the Thunder as well as OU and OSU. You see, Governor, I would love to move back to Oklahoma someday. However, today, Governor, in the eyes of the great state of Oklahoma, my two brothers and I are not equal. When you recently ordered that same-sex partners of servicemembers in the Oklahoma National Guard not receive the spousal benefits that their partners earned and that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy, you boldly declared that people like me are not equal in your eyes. Today I have a job in which I am excelling, but in Oklahoma I could be fired simply for being who I am. I could walk into any restaurant and be denied service for being who I am. Worst of all, if I were in the Oklahoma National Guard, I would be reminded that my sacrifice was not equal to that of my fellow servicemembers, solely because I love a man and not a woman. 
I was born and raised in the red dirt fields of western Oklahoma, the same place where the seeds of the American dream were planted for both my parents' families. My mother hails from tough stock: farmers who braved and outlasted the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression when so many of their neighbors threw in the towel and headed west. With sweat and blood they endured many droughts to raise their family on the land they loved. First-generation Americans, my father's parents were careful to maintain a connection with their Mexican heritage while instilling in my father a deep love and appreciation for their new home country, which gave them an opportunity for a better life, and a great pride in being American. While raising a dozen children, my grandparents chopped endless rows of cotton until they'd saved enough money to open our family restaurant. Although my two sets of grandparents were culturally different, they both believed their families to be the bedrock of their success. Being in Oklahoma, close to my siblings and extended family, would be a dream come true for me. 
Governor, it pains me to recognize that when you didn't know I am gay, you considered me equal. It pains me to know that my beloved Oklahoma appears to be like Alabama of the 1960s, not moving forward but stagnating in prejudice and inequality no longer suited for our country. My prayer for you and the state of Oklahoma is that you move forward on civil rights issues and certainly not take steps backwards. I pray that in future news I read and hear, Oklahoma is not a state of condemnation but one of acceptance. 
I've heard it spoken from the church pulpit that when you stand for nothing, you fall for everything. I also know that when hate is spoken from that same pulpit, the words are no longer anointed. So in closing, because the great state of Oklahoma regards me as less than equal, I would like to remind you of Matthew 25:40; in which Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
I pray that in the future you remember, because you are a Christian, to think of Jesus. How would he treat someone? I know that in his eyes I am created just the same as you. And maybe someday I, along with many others who have fled the state, will be able to return to the place we call home. 
Dillon Peña
Oklahoma needs new leadership and a revival of what it truly means to act as a Christian and stop being so judgmental of people who don't think or act like the hard right evangelicals.  I am not hard right, not an evangelical, but I am white, a female, and heterosexual.  Today I won't even vote Republican or support Republican candidates after seeing the Republican Party of Oklahoma up close and personal.  They are mean, nasty, aggressive, underhanded, and have the empathy of a gnat for anyone not thinking like them.

Every morning I wake up with "This is the day the lord has made, be happy and be grateful" which comes from going to Sunday School every Sunday morning.  Grew up singing "God made the little children, all the children of the World...."  To this day, I remember standing in front of the Congregation singing that song when we were in first grade and looking out to see the migrant families our Church was hosting that Sunday.  It stayed with me my whole life that God made all of us - we look different, speak different, think different, and act different but we all the same in God's eyes.

None of us have a right to be judgmental over others just because they are gay.  Some of the evangelical and Catholic community who attack gays defend heterosexual pedophiles which makes zero sense to me.   The new Pope gets it about gays so when are evangelicals going to understand we are all just people with different wants and desires.  Why condemn two consenting adults because their sexual orientation is not like yours?

1 comment:

  1. All I can think of, when dealing with people like this are the lyrics from a novelty record by Jerry Samuels: ('re_Coming_to_Take_Me_Away,_Ha-Haaa!)

    "Remember when you ran away
    And I got on my knees
    And begged you not to leave
    Because I'd go berserk
    Well you left me anyhow
    And then the days got worse and worse
    And now you see I've gone
    Completely out of my mind

    And they're coming to take me away ha-haaa
    They're coming to take me away ho ho hee hee ha haaa
    To the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time
    And I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats
    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa

    You thought it was a joke and so you laughed
    You laughed when I said
    That losing you would make me flip my lid, right?
    You know you laughed, I heard you laugh
    You laughed, you laughed and laughed and then you left
    But now you know I'm utterly mad

    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa
    They're coming to take me away ho ho hee hee ha haaa
    To the happy home with trees and flowers and chirping birds
    And basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes
    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa

    I cooked your food, I cleaned your house
    And this is how you pay me back
    For all my kind, unselfish, loving deeds
    Ha! Well you just wait
    They'll find you yet and when they do
    They'll put you in the ASPCA, you mangy mutt

    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa
    They're coming to take me away ha haaa ho ho hee hee
    To the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time
    And I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats
    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa
    To the happy home with trees and flowers and chirping birds
    And basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes
    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa!

    I know, it's disrespectful and does not treat those who truly have emotional problems very nicely, but I can come up with no other logical explanation for the actions of the far right.

    The Pink Flamingo