Tag Archives: marriage equality

Tough Cases in Family Therapy

Three case studies are presented as examples of the complex problems married clients bring to the therapist. [These clients have approved the use of their real names because they are exhibitionists.]

Case History 1.
Jacob and Leah sit side by side on a couch. To the experienced eye the couple’s body language reveals tension and stress. Jacob gazes into the distance while Leah shrinks into the cushions. Rebecca, Jacob’s other wife, squats on the floor. Rebecca is rending her garment, one thread at a time. The steady plinking noise punctuates the session. It’s very irritating.
The handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah are outside in the parking lot watching the kids.

Leah to Jacob—“I know you never really loved me. You resent it that my father tricked you into marrying me? Well how do you think I feel? I was fruitful and bore you sons and Rebecca couldn’t stand it. She gave you her maidservant to lie with. That’s cheating.”
Rebecca to Leah— “You should talk about cheating. You found a mandrake root and wouldn’t give me any unless I sent Jacob to lie in your tent. I think you were on mandrake all along.”
Leah to Rebecca— “I had to give Jacob my maidservant to lie with to get even with you. Now I hardly ever see him. Why couldn’t you just accept that you’re barren?”
Jacob to Wives— “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Case History 2.

Tamar has occupied an armchair on one side of the room. Her expression is aggrieved and defiant. Judah sits as far away as possible, his expression unreadable because he has veiled his face. He is wearing dozens of small protective amulets that rattle when he moves.

Tamar– “Every day I ask G–d why I was forced to marry into this family. It’s not my fault that Judah’s son, my first husband Er, got smote. And Onan– he was even worse. I still have a burn mark from when the lightning struck. And don’t even ask about PTSD–I was right next to him in bed. I know they were your sons, Judah, but fair’s fair. I should have been married to the youngest when he grew up. Instead you would have left me at my father’s house to wear widow’s weeds until menopause. If I hadn’t dressed up like a prostitute and stopped you on the way to sheep shearing I’d be childless today.
I want a brother or sister for your twins. How come you shun my tent? I think it was pretty generous of me to overlook the fact that you tried to have me burned to death.”

Judah–“Wife, let me put this in terms you can understand. It’s the bottom of the ninth, you already have two strikes. Third strike and I’m out. I’m the coach of this game and it’s the dugout for you.”

Case History 3

Solomon comes to the therapist’s office alone. He looks very tired. He had arranged some sessions of individual therapy before scheduling couple’s therapy with his wives–

“When I was younger, I really liked to party. Even if I didn’t, some things are expected of the King of Israel. I’m married to Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. Some nights I can’t even remember their names. For instance, I’m married to three sisters named Jun, Jen and Jeun. And my first wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, is a real drama queen. I thought she’d mellow out but she’s still jealous as a cat. I think she’s been gossiping with some of my Edomite wives because my scouts report armed troops on the border and they’re getting intelligence from someone on the inside. It’s hard to establish trust when you have 1,000 wives, most of whom are from enemy tribes. I can’t seem to please any of them these days.”

Despite the challenges these tough cases present, the therapist can resolve all conflicts using simple rules based on the wisdom of millenia. It’s fortunate that traditional marriage has not changed in the last 3,000, 6,000, since Adam and Eve served dinosaur eggs at their wedding brunch. Though some complain that it’s hard to find room for all the cattle a bride brings to her husband’s family, mere convenience should not justify experimenting with an institution that has remained changeless through the ages and has served men so well.

(For more details on these cases see– Genesis 29-30:22, Genesis 38:6-30, 1 Kings 11:1-9, and do read your Bible for remedies to false claims.)

A Step Forward

Today Governor Chafee signed an executive order recognizing same-sex marriages performed in states where the marriages are legal.

This is a small, reasonable step that will clear up confusion and save lawyer hours. When Rhode Island finally joins the rest of New England in marriage equality nothing much will change for most of us. But some will miss the controversy. From what I heard at the State House, we should all be very worried about Communists. Let’s legalized gay marriage and end this distraction from our crusade against the Bolshevik threat.

We Do — In North Carolina

Pam Spaulding, blogmistress of Pam’s House Blend, is an inspiration to all citizen journalists. Carrying a day job, living with chronic pain and disability, Pam tirelessly advocates for fairness and equal rights. Pam lives with her wife in North Carolina, they are an interracial couple. Pam campaigned, along with individuals, organizations and churches, against Amendment One– a law that bans all unions, gay or straight, except traditional marriage. This will affect straight couples when it comes to such rights as visitation in the hospital. It might just foul things up enough to discomfort the average North Carolinian.

About a year ago I heard Maggie Gallagher of NOM (National Organization for Marriage) testify in the Rhode Island State House that we should put marriage equality to a popular vote. Putting the rights of a minority to a majority vote is almost a guarantee that those rights will be denied, as we see in North Carolina.

Pam links here to the day after Amendment One…

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality is ready to roll with an equality action following the results of today’s primary. Its WE DO Campaign involves LGBT couples in Southern communities requesting – and being denied – marriage licenses in order to call for full equality under federal law and to resist unjust state laws. During these actions clergy, family and friends stand with them. She shares her feelings about passage of Amendment One.

This is a hard night. As I sit in Wilson, N.C. I’m thinking most about the LGBT youth across the state who, for months now, have been hearing increasingly vitriolic messages that they are less than. My heart is heavy for them, and heavy with the news that Amendment One has passed.

But that’s not all that I feel. Looking forward, I feel deeply hopeful about what is possible – tomorrow and in the years to come. This hope comes from knowing people like you and from knowing that we are building a new southern equality movement that, I truly believe, can accelerate the path to full federal equality.

We can’t change the results of this vote, but we can determine what comes next. Tomorrow when kids across the state wake up, I want them to know that this story isn’t over.

Follow the link above if you want to know what is happening nationwide.

I hope to get Pam’s autograph at NetRoots Nation. She is always worth reading. You can visit the Blend here.

I’ll probably be hearing more about this in church. The Unitarian Universalist Association has a campaign for human rights called, Standing on the Side of Love.

So, When’s the Wedding?

Same-sex lovers in New York won’t be able to weasel out of making a commitment, or at least one excuse is gone.

Congratulations, felicitations and best wishes to all New Yorkers. This is civil rights for some, and likely to be an economic boost for the whole state, especially those in the floral and photo industries.

The window of opportunity for Rhode Island is closing. We’ll look back some day and ask why we passed on a chance to do right and do well at the same time.

Read Your Bible

Yesterday was busy, with a rally for Planned Parenthood in the morning and hearings at the State House last night.

I was sleep-deprived already, having driven 360 miles round trip to go to a wake, and I had to work too.

I’d love to review some of the arguments against marriage equality when I get a chance, but one outrageous claim stands out.

Several speakers, including clergy, said that marriage has always been one man and one woman. Some went so far as to say that this was not only the case for Judaism and Christianity, but for humanity since the dawn of time.

Have they never read their Bible?

Well, I have, and will expand on this point after I get home from work.

Senator Harold Metts had his Bible in hand, and unabashedly preached his Christian faith, saying several times that it was not his opinion, but God’s word. I think Rhode Island lost an inspired minister when Metts went into politics, and gained a politician who gives the impression that his office is a means to his religious ends. I don’t know how much he is willing to recognize the rights of constituents who do not share his beliefs.

Rev. Bernard Healy said that the reason for marriage is children. This was the testimony of several other speakers. I wish the Church had used its influence on the late governor when he repeatedly cut programs for poor children, but they have their priorities.

I don’t know what Roger Williams would say about all this. He left Massachusetts because they had a state religion that punished heretics. Now Mass is wicked blue and RI has an organized religious base that politicians defy at their own risk. Mass, I notice, has not suffered the apocalypse predicted for RI if we let same-sex couples marry. In fact, the divorce rate there is low. Maybe protecting marriage is more connected to employment, education, opportunity and justice than to depriving qualified couples who want legal recognition for a commitment they already live up to. Maybe heterosexual couples value marriage more when they see how this right, or lack of it, affects their gay friends and neighbors.

It’s Time

It’s time for marriage equality.

ProJo Has the Best Video of Marriage Hearing

I checked out the local news, and ProJo just has the best video, though it only covers the rally.

Here is from last summer, a man speaking in tongues. I post this for old time’s sake, though I won’t be dropping by Apponaug Pentecostal anytime soon. Speaking in tongues completely absolves you of having to make any sense at all. I used to do it myself, so I can say that it’s a learned thing that’s easy to do if you are encouraged by the people around you. I think when I was that age I also used to hum and whistle at the same time, which I thought was pretty neat.

If people want to speak in tongues, that’s fine. It’s not that uncommon, I’ve heard it done by Catholics, Pentecostals and Baptists. But if we’re talking about making laws that affect non-believers and believers alike, we have a right to expect rationality.

John Green on Marriage Equality

Today, let us be mindful of the many things we often take for granted. I’m asking all of you here, for whom this applies–to just consider for a moment– your material comforts, your health care, education– all the rights, privileges and protections under the laws you enjoy by simple virtue of the fact that you live in a great state–within an even greater country. I would ask that you give thanks for being married to someone you love and for having that union and family legally sanctioned everywhere by the powers that be. If all this applies to you, the only question I have is–“Wouldn’t you wish that everyone be equally blessed?”

My answer is yes–because there isn’t anything good and fine in my life that I wouldn’t want everybody to have. So I am here today, happy to lend support in favor of marriage equality. I came of age down South in the sixties. And for better and for worse, that experience imprinted me with an indelible awareness of boundaries. Racism, like all forms of bigotry, has a way of doing that–to its victims and benefactors alike, by purposely creating an unequal and unjust caste system of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. I share with gay people– firsthand experience –of what it means and how it feels– to be on the outside looking in.

One thing I believe that sets America favorably apart in the eyes of the world–is the spirit of our laws, which over time not only champions the individual and recognizes our diversity, but does not overlook and wisely safeguards the legal and civil rights of minorities too. One’s sexual orientation, like the color of one’s skin, is not something over which any of us has a choice. I don’t believe it’s fair or reasonable to exclude anyone on this basis. I am also disheartened whenever I see otherwise bright, well meaning people– misusing religion and science to justify bigotry and the denial of rights to others–which is, after all, the real issue here.

I have 5 sisters and 3 brothers. Many summers ago when I was a boy, we were out playing when our Dad unexpectedly showed up. He asked, “Who wants ice cream?” Of course we all said we did. So Dad was off to the store. Upon his return, we eagerly crowded about him as he led us inside to the kitchen table. As he reached into the bag, he told us there were only 2 half-gallons left in the whole store. We were dumbfounded when we realized Dad had only brought back 1 carton. Reading our faces, he simply smiled and told us that, “On a hot day like this, I figured somebody else might want some too.” I remember feeling a little chagrined, then I smiled, thinking to myself about somebody out there we didn’t even know, who like us, was benefitting from Dad’s thoughtful gesture and from the importance he placed on sharing. And isn’t that what inclusion is all about?

It’s always the right time– to stop behaving as if compassion, fairness, and equality are finite natural resources, to be doled out bit by bit and then– only to those of a select status. Our state’s motto is HOPE. I choose to believe– that this expectation is meant to apply equally to every soul living within its boundaries.

Standing on the Side of Love

Inspiring sermon today from the Reverend James Ismael Ford, posted on his blog, Monkey Mind Online …

Out of the horror that took place in Tucson on Saturday the 8th of January, amidst the fear and blood, there were several notable acts of heroism. I think of Dorwan Stoddard the seventy-six year old retired construction worker who as soon as he realized what was happening, threw his wife to the ground and his body over hers. She survived. He didn’t. I picture that event and cannot get out of my head. I am glad I can’t.

And who is now unaware of Daniel Hernandez, a twenty-year old junior at the University of Arizona, in his fifth day as an unpaid intern for Representative Giffords, and his actions in those awful moments? He wasn’t standing very close when the boy put a bullet through the representative’s head and then began spraying shots into the crowd. By his own account maybe forty feet away, Daniel simply started running toward the shooting. He ran toward the shooting. Another set of images I cannot get out of my head and am glad I cannot. Pictures naturally took shape in my mind of those firemen and policemen racing into the Twin Towers. Asked about this, Daniel who had limited nurse’s aid training in High School, felt, it really all happened too fast to say he thought, felt he could put that training to good use.

He had already assisted a couple of people when he found the congresswoman lying on the ground. He propped her up on his chest to stop her from choking on her own blood. At first he tried to staunch her wounds with his hands. Then took smocks someone brought out from the Safeway and created makeshift bandages that more or less did the job. Staying with the representative, holding her up, holding off the bleeding, at the same time he advised others how to help those they were tending. Medical authorities say it is almost certain that Daniel’s actions saved Gabrielle Giffords’ life.

Hernandez is gay, he is an example of the best of America. He deserves the right to legally marry and enjoy all the rights and responsibilties that marriage brings.

There’s much more to say, you can read the rest here.

Blessing the Union

Today’s Huffington Post reports that Pope Benedict has laid down some standards for priests counseling engaged couples…

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI told priests Saturday to do a better job counseling would-be spouses to ensure their marriages last and said no one has an absolute right to a wedding.

Benedict made the comments in his annual speech to the Roman Rota, the Vatican tribunal that decides marriage annulments. An annulment is the process by which the church effectively declares that a marriage never took place.

Benedict acknowledged that the problems that would allow for a marriage to be annulled cannot always be identified beforehand. But he said better pre-marriage counseling, which the Catholic Church requires of the faithful, could help avoid a “vicious circle” of invalid marriages.

This is the Church doing its job. The Catholic Church, or any religious group, can and should make it clear which life events it will celebrate, and who it will accept into its membership.

Also, the Pope is telling priests to offer the best pre-marital counseling, with a goal of preventing marriages that are likely to bring grief and breakup. This is religion helping people to live better lives.

Most people who seek pre-marital counseling from a priest didn’t just wander in the door. They want a Catholic wedding. They could just go to a Justice of the Peace, and make it legal, but they want the blessing of the priest, and for that they have to follow the rules of the Church.

We don’t demand that non-Catholics follow the rules of the Church. The Church has a moral stand that divorced people can’t re-marry, but we don’t expect the State to conform to that. Saints be praised.

I’m no longer a Catholic, so it’s as an outsider that I say that the custom of ‘annulment’ seems less respectful of marriage than legal divorce. To me, claiming that vows made in good faith and a marriage attempted never existed is to deny that we are fallible, and sometimes make promises we can’t keep. It also denies that most marriages that break up had some good times, and some ex-spouses are loving and unselfish as parents.

It’s got to be painful when after the trauma of divorce an ex-spouse receives a Church summons for annulment. It’s a protection for them that the State recognizes a legal marriage contract apart from any actions by the Church. The Diocese of Providence requires that couples obtain a legal divorce before they will consider an annulment petition, in line with standard Church practice. The legal marriage cannot be legally disolved by the Church, and the religious vows cannot be undone by the State.

My good friend, after a painful divorce, asked her Rabbi for a Jewish ceremony for healing and to put to rest the vows that could not be kept.

The State recognizes and validates a union. Religion meets spiritual needs. Both have their place.

If we accepted that the Catholic Church should influence divorce law, because a majority of Rhode Islanders are Catholic, we might please the majority– who might see this as defending marriage. But it would be a mess for the rest of us.

The Pope is absolutely right to focus on good premarital counseling as a way to protect marriage in his Church, and the Church should bless only those unions it considers valid.

They should let the State be the State, legal protection for all citizens regardless of religion. They should let same-sex couples, divorced, inter-religious, non-Catholic– go to City Hall. Or to a church that will welcome and affirm their union.


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