Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Great Opportunity

Yesterday, I had a great opportunity. I was invited to be part of a group of "mom bloggers" to attend a Roundtable discussion with the Lt Governor of Indiana, Becky Skillman.

It was an eclectic group of women. Some blog about agriculture, whole foods, cooking, life, parenting, saving money, getting out of debt and much more.

Becky Skillman is a fascinating woman- rural roots, small town government, and worked her way up tot he position she is in now. All while being a mom and wife and involved citizen of her community. It was an informal atmosphere- we were free to ask questions and discuss.

The room was filled with the most passion when the subject of food in schools came up. It started with concern from parents who have children with food allergies and grew into discussion about food offered in school cafeterias. I was able to offer up what I had come prepared with and shared it with moms in the room who want to approach their school boards to make changes. President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act back in December. I had brought with me a print out of a summation of the legislation and also a sample before/after menu provided on the website.

But it was kind of hard to sit in the Statehouse. Legislature was in session so all the officials and elected people and lobbyists and what have you were around. Definitely an interesting energy when you walk through the place.

When we introduced ourselves, I had to stop myself from lying about who I was. I wanted to stand up and say, "My name is Liz and I keep a personal blog called Eternal Lizdom where I share the struggles I face as a lesbian mom who has been in a committed relationship for 15 years but cannot marry my partner or be afforded the same rights as straight couples."

But I didn't want to lie. And it wasn't the right forum for it.

There was a mom who spoke up in the midst of her question and was able to express her disappointment in our government's choices this week- to which I gave a loud AMEN!

This week, our state government has passed through the House a bill that will change our state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. I also learned (through my own online reading of the Bills currently in the House and Senate) that our government has a bill to define "covenant marriage."

You know what? I want the government out of my marriage.

There are legalities required because of next of kin and who makes decisions and what gets passed on if someone dies and all that. But that should be the extent of the government's involvement in marriage. Laws that protect the parties when it comes to property and money and material things. Laws that protect the rights of the spouse when it comes to decision making in the care of their spouse or children. And the only covenant I need to make in my marriage is between me, my spouse, and God- my government is not part of that. Government limiting and defining marriage when there are far greater fights to be fought, far more dangerous and harmful things happening in our state, is infuriating. My state government is choosing to write off the people of this state who are gay by excluding them from the state's constitution. No- not excluding them. Purposefully pointing out that they don't fit the definition.

You know what? That's bullying.

It's no better than the kids in the cafeteria or on the playground who lead the charge against Billy because he has red hair. Maybe that's what we ought to do, really. Start rallying against all the red heads in our state, in our country.

We all know that those born with red hair are trouble makers and of the devil. Shouldn't we be creating legislation that protects the sanctity of our brown and blond and black and gray haired citizens from the shameful and sinful red headed people??? How can those of us with Normal hair be taken seriously if we give the same rights and responsibilities to those who have red hair?

I was proud to go to the Statehouse yesterday. I was honored to meet the Lt. Governor. I was honored that she took time out of her busy schedule to sit back and talk with us and really hear about our concerns- everything from food for our kids to environmental concerns to the lack of technology coverage in some of our rural areas. It's exciting to visit the capitol, to take in the history and beauty of the place, to feel the spirit of what has been accomplished there.

But I was sad, too. Angry.

I wanted to find the people in that building and drag them with me to go and talk to the couples and families that they are choosing to exclude. I get that there are a lot of people who believe homosexuality is a sin and a choice. I don't agree, obviously, but I respect an individual's right to their opinion. I even respect an individual's right or a group's right to speak up about their opinions. But I really think those opinions are being held with clenched fists and stiff arms and tight fingers of ignorance- and worst of all, chosen ignorance.

I seriously wonder how many people who hold those beliefs have taken the time to explore the other side. Gone and actually attended worship services at a church like Jesus MCC. Gone and talked to a PFLAG group. Met with families of 2 mommies or 2 daddies, talked to the kids brought up in those homes. Sure, there are passionate videos posted on YouTube and there are eloquent and emotional speeches given to government officials. But I don't think they really hear these voices in these enclosed little spaces.

So my great opportunity yesterday- to be part of a group of women who blog who got to meet an important part of our state's government- has turned into a great opportunity today- for me to share, once again, more of my own feelings and opinions on what I see as a great wrong being committed against citizens of this state and of this country.



Briana said...

I don't want the gov in my biz either! :)

Wish I would have had more time to talk to the other bloggers...

Glad I found your blog! :)

noexcuses said...

Extraordinarily said! I am right there with you! MO has similar laws on the books. I say kudos to those who have found a way to live comfortably within the existing mandates.

Thank you for expressing your opinions today!

Anonymous said...

As a woman with a gay brother, I find this topic so difficult to talk about. I know I can't change the narrow minds of so many people and get so frustrated trying. My brother and his partner have been together for over 10 years and are more committed than many married couples I know. They are building a house together, loving each other and are wonderful people. They don't need a government's seal of approval on their relationship - they have that seal from friends and family...but it would be really nice if they could make those decisions, about love and marriage, and not someone who has never met them!

Eternal Lizdom said...

Julie, that's why I think it's actually most important for our little voices to be heard and to share our opinions and our stories and our experiences. In all honesty, I think the bigger "punch" comes when you have someone like you or me- typical midwestern, straight, white married chicks- speak up and speak out. People could easily look at me and assume that I conform to what the majority of straight, married, white, middle class women believe. But I don't. And I think that's why it's so important to be a loud voice that speaks up and says, "Don't stomp on this group and don't assume you are representing me in your choices."

Flesworthy said...

Very well said, and so nice to meet you yesterday! My disappointment was expressed spur-of-the-moment but I'm glad that I said it (and that you had my back). My relationship shouldn't be considered more "valid" just because my husband & I are different genders. A loving family is a loving family, no matter who you create it with.

Angie @ Just Like The Number said...

I think my biggest take away from the experience is that we do indeed have a voice, and with that comes a responsibility to use it. I was glad to see such a varied group of mothers represented. As always, it's great to run into you in real life!

Garret said...

So what I got from all this is that Jeff is a lesbian... by association.

Bill Lisleman said...

great post - I'll be passing this along on some FB friends. Some change happens quickly but I think human relationship change unfortunately happens over generations. Of course we still need to promote good attitude changes even if it takes time. My attitude has changed over the years on this but I did start with an open mind. I agree with you and we should not be passing laws that are backward steps.

Michelle@gotchababy said...

It was good to see you yesterday--the whole thing went by so quickly! I think we could have talked for hours.....

Cherie from the Queen of Free said...

Great to see you on Wednesday Liz! I don't like the government having its fingers in my marriage either.

And I'm frightened of your anti-redhead legislation. ;)

designHER Momma said...

Liz -
I too am truly disappointed and saddened regarding the stance our State has taken on same sex marriage.

I am so glad you came, I bet you were dying inside trying to keep your mouth shut!

Remember, you have supporters! And your family, no matter how it's come together, is beautiful.

Lisa @ Simplified Saving said...

I found your blog after the Lt. Governor's meeting on Wednesday. I was so captured by all the great blog names and have been systematically making my way through my list.

What a cool experience. I was so motivated when I left to make a difference in my community and to make an effort to get together with other moms on a more regular basis so we can lift a unified voice! Hope we'll get to meet at another blogger get together in the near future!

Sherry said...

Love your post!! I was an awesome opportunity and the connections we've made are key. Thanks for sharing your point of view!! Looking forward to seeing you again and so proud you're standing up for what you believe in and what's in your heart! Visiting from Indiana Women Bloggers on FB!!

Mrs4444 said...

What an honor; to be asked to be part of that group. I hope that your time was well-spent.

Thanks for being active in your community--It's important, no matter what side you're on.

Becky Skillman said...

I wanted to thank you for coming to the Statehouse. This is the first time I’ve done a roundtable like this, but I’m glad I did. If ever I needed a group of advisers, I certainly have a group of knowledgeable, clever and creative women to call upon.

Liz – You encourage others to be their best possible self, and I hope you continue to share your fitness journey as well as anything else that inspires you.

Becky Skillman