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A Poorly Conceived Show of Support

Timothy Kincaid

October 13th, 2008

This past week a parent of a first grader in San Francisco thought it would be a good and supportive act to have the children in the first grade class surprise the teacher by showing up for her wedding to her same-sex partner. The school’s interim director thought this was a good idea and a “teaching moment” and so they organized a field trip. In total, 18 children from the charter school participated and two families chose to have their children remain at school with another first grade class.

I do not think that first graders are too young to know about marriage. Nor do I think that same-sex marriage is any more shocking, confusing, or inherently controversial than a marriage between persons of the opposite sex. And I don’t think that an outing to the marriage of a teacher is an inappropriate excursion for school children.

But I do think that one must be aware of the ramifications of ones decisions and choose wisely.

It is three weeks before California voters will decide whether to take away the right from same-sex couples to marry. And those who support the anti-marriage amendment have decided that fears about children are their strongest argument.

Surely even the most obtuse of parents and administrators had to have been aware that their actions were tailor-made for use by anti-gay activists. I find it hard to understand what they were thinking.

I know that San Francisco is insular and a conservative is hard to find. All of their friends and acquaintances support marriage equality and no doubt they thought this was a brave show of support. But did they not see the potential for misrepresentation or were they truly naïve enough to believe that supporters of Proposition 8 would behave admirably?

This should not be an issue. The parents were the ones who decided to which marriages their children would be exposed. This is not an example of “gay marriage being taught to first graders” over the objections of parents.

And I truly do appreciate the attitude behind their choice.

But anti-gays have already begun to use this in their effort to deny me equality. And I find it frustrating and annoying that the actions of some presumably-heterosexual people in San Francisco may well provide the basis for some Californians to become afraid of treating me equally.

Think, people. Think.

Comments

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Regan DuCasse
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Can’t disagree with you Tim. Timing is everything.
So is teaching the opposition. Of all of those first graders in any given classroom THEY would visit.
Would they be able to tell who has gay parents and who doesn’t? Who has previously divorced parents and who doesn’t or who has a parent with an incurable medical disorder and who doesn’t?

If children matter, then ALL children do. Not just those of heterosexual parents.
THAT I throw right back at them, and it’s VERY difficult for them to account for treating any children better than others.

Thanks Tim.
You handsome thing, when, when, WHEN are we going to have a visit? I really miss you, brother.

Timothy Kincaid
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Thanks Regan, you make me blush. I’m going to be a bit busy until Nov 11, so let’s plan on soon thereafter. I miss you.

NG
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

For the sake of clarity, do you take the same position with respect to proponents of Prop 8 using children to promote the ballot measure?

It never ceases to amaze me, Tim, how effortless it is for these people (the anti-gays) to punk out the gay community.

Timothy Kincaid
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

I support the rights of all parents to use their kids as political props – assuming no real harm comes to the kids. I seldom think it’s a wise decision.

Kevin
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Kids, with the encouragement and support of their parents, went to go see their teacher get married. Parents who objected kept their kids in school.

This is how it works.

Even outside of San Francisco, this isn’t a big deal.

Bigots and religious lunatics are going to warp and spin whatever they can and if they can’t find anything, they’ll just lie, lie, lie… like we see them doing time and time again.

I hope the “Christian” Right does pick up on this, because we should then put the parents and kids of this school out in front and let them speak for themselves.

What powerful spokespeople these parents and their children could be to support No on 8, 102, and 2. The campaigns should have them do the commercials.

Jarred
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Perhaps they thought doing what they felt was the right thing was more important than worrying about how the anti-gay crowd would spin their choices. Personally, I think there’s some merit to such a line of thought. After all, if we avoid a choice everytime someone might spin that choice into something awful, we could find ourselves terribly inactive.

Jason D
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

my gut reaction is to tell Tim where to stick it, but he does have a point.

Knowing what we do about the anti-gay side they will ignore:

1) The fact that not all the children went to city hall.
2) That this was the wedding, not the honeymoon (Work safe wording)
3) That this was a field trip, and as such required the signed permission slips of parents. IE, the parents were in on it (or not in the case of those who did not go).
4) Those who did not want their kids to attend, for any reason, weren’t punished, merely sent to a different classroom for one school day.
5) Had parents objected, their kids would not be at the wedding.
6) This was a surprise FOR a beloved teacher who had no idea her class would be at her wedding.

Eddie89
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Yes, the yes on 8 crowd may use this in their next commercial to scare the undecided.

Hopefully, our side will be able to answer right back and show that not all students went to watch a same-sex wedding. The parents were asked and those that chose “no” stayed behind in their classrooms.

That’s how it works now and that’s how it’s going to continue to work.

To the yes on 8 crowd: “Stop scaring people with your lies!”


California – Vote “NO” on Prop. 8!
Arizona – Vote “NO” on Prop. 102! AGAIN!
Florida – Vote “NO” on Amendment 2!

rusty
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

did we call for a ban or have the following events cancelled:
Folsom Street Fair
Gay Pride Celebrations
Public Gay Marriage Ceremonies

???

These young people and families were out to support one of their most important people in their lives: Their Teacher.

Currently in Seattle, Lucy, a diminutive human ancestor, strode across the plains of Ethiopia 3.2 million years ago is on display at the Pacific Science Center and Creationist’s and Conservatives are appalled that calls are going out to come visit ‘your early ancestor’ , calls to schools and young folk.

Please, I do not think we need to discourage any supporters, but rather invest in putting forth ideas and support of the No on 8.

Dave
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Insular, obtuse, and naive perfectly describes the lefty dumb-asses of San Francisco.

I congratulate, Timothy, for such a bold display of honesty. (Hell will now freeze over for my doing so.)

Kevin
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Dave,

Insults don’t support your position.

On the contrary, they weaken it.

Then again, when your argument is weak and without merit, such as why any clear-headed American would vote for McCain/Palin, name-calling and malice are the last resorts of someone who is losing or has lost.

Dave
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Kevin,

I don’t know what endorsing or voting for the McCain-Palin ticket has to do with any of this.

I have never endorsed any candidate here at BTB nor said anything about how I intend to vote. Please stop making assumptions about me.

As for my statement about the majority in San Francisco, that is simply my opinion. If I really wanted to insult those fools, you’d know it.

Priya Lynn
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Dave, you want to insult the majority in San Franscisco, you have, and we know it.

Priya Lynn
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Dave’s upset because his guy’s losing in the federal election.

Timothy Kincaid
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

We are NOT going to turn thread this into a debate over presidential candidates.

Kevin
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Dave,

You are missing the point, again.

The point was that by insulting the people of San Francisco, you weren’t really constructively arguing Timothy’s point about this marriage “field trip” being useful to the anti-gay folks. Your insults only invalidated your perspective of Timothy’s point because most folks would clearly see them, as opposed to reasoned dialogue, as either a smokescreen or red herring for someone who believes they are arguing from a losing position and has nothing left but insults.

I think I can reasonably and respectively disagree with Timothy’s point because I am a San Franciscan and believe I have a firm grasp on the diverse perspective of the citizens of this city.

You have it backwards. San Francisco is extremely cosmopolitan. We are a densely packed city, full of diverse faiths, cultures, nationalities, and political perspectives (although the city tends to vote progressive, at least 15-20 percent voted for Bush last election).

The further you move away from San Francisco, the more insular communities become. Take the Central Valley, for example, where you might find more members of white supremacist organizations than actually exists in the American South.

Does that mean that the absence of the Klan from San Francisco proves our insularity? Or is it the opposite, in fact, which goes that Klan values are inconsistent in a cosmopolitan society where people must get along?..that’s a rhetorical question.

Those of us from other parts of the state or parts of the US know very well the places we grew up and left, and many of us like myself still have very close connections with it. I have close connnections in the Central Valley and in North Carolina, where I grew up.

So, I know America through the eyes of the rural South and as a citizen of a cosmopolitan urban core, as do many San Franciscans. Recent personal observations from my travels and communications with family actually shows the rest of the country becoming more like San Francisco, rather than rejecting our so-called “lefty” values.

I see it happening in urban, exurban, and rural areas alike. People grasp onto things that they admire, and there’s a lot about what we do here in SF that people admire, including civil rights for same-sex couples.

Anyone who has ever been part of the social and political culture of San Francisco instantly realizes that your “insular, obtuse” bit flies in the face of facts and reason – which is why your insults are transparently wrong to anyone who knows better.

Just because a lie is repeated over and over doesn’t make it true, especially considering the source of those lies.

By the way, these kids are from a charter school. Most school kids in SF go to public school. Well-to-do kids go to private school (usually run by the Episcopalians or Catholics) or go to an academically-gifted charter school.

If your kid goes to an academically-gifted charter school, it’s likely your parents have an above average IQ as well – and as such, anecdotally they tend to be less bias against people simply because of their sexual orientation.

So does something like this happening in San Francisco surprise me? No. In fact, people with means and ambition move to San Francisco to surround themselves in this open, progressive, educated, and tolerant culture to raise future leaders of the free world.

I call it “Bright Flight”, aka Brain Drain. Bright and ambitious Americans who believe in pluralism and progressive ideals are “in flight” from ideologically suffocating communities they grew up in.

That’s the America I live in and it is ANYTHING BUT insular or obtuse.

Dave
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

Please don’t refer to John McCain as my guy in the election. As far as I’m concerned neither Obama nor McCain has any business being president.

“Dave, you want to insult the majority in San Franscisco”

You have a remarkable grasp of the obvious.

Dave
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Ah, Kevin,

Now I can see where you’re coming from. Your previous post didn’t make that clear.

“The point was that by insulting the people of San Francisco, you weren’t really constructively arguing Timothy’s point about this marriage “field trip” being useful to the anti-gay folks.”

I do not disagree with Mr. Kincaid’s point. But it was never my intention to comment on it. I simply wanted to point out how the terms he used in the post were apt descriptors of the majority of San Francisco’s residents.

If you think “the rest of the country [is] becoming more like San Francisco” then you either misunderstand the places you’ve visited or fail to grasp the San Francisco I mock. Most of the U.S. is not about to become a place that welcomes illegal aliens while sending the miscreants amongst them to be a problem for neighboring municipalities, nor a place that officially endorses open-air fetish festivals while attacking jr. ROTC.

Willie Hewes
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

San Fran values aside…

I understand what you’re saying, Timothy, but I don’t agree. Yes, this is exactly the sort of thing that sends the anti-gays crazy, and yes they’ll exploit it for political gain and granted, the timing is unfortunate, in that regard.

But this teacher will probably not get married twice. It IS a teaching moment, and a wonderful surprise. If we believe this was the right thing to do, and the right way to do it, then we should do it, regardless of what our opposition may make of it.

If we adjust our behaviour and keep ourselves from doing joyful things for sake of their political poo-poo-ing, we’ve lost more ground than we ever would by giving them a handfull of grist for their hate-mill.

And yes, they should get these kids and their parents into the campaign.

Ben in Oakland
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

Even though I wish they had not done this, and Newsome had not rpesided over the wedding, nevertheless, I find myself in agreement with willie.

As i have said here and elsewhere repeatedly, the enemy is not the religious right. The enemy is the closet, not talking about it.

If we are klosing against prop. 8, it is because our dear leaders have chosen to keep us hidden from our fellow californians.

CLS
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

Our position ought to be that this is a parental decision. We should condemn tne Prop 8 people for attacking parents for making the decision to teach their children, their values. We need to make it clear that the parents sent their kids to greet their teacher outside City Hall — they didn’t go to the wedding as has been falsely reported. And other parents choose not to have their children do this. Both sets of parents have the right tomake that decision.

To condemn these parents, for either reason, is to substitute our choices for the parent’s choices. The Prop 8 people are showing they do not respect the rights of parents to teach their own values. The Prop 8 advocates want to replace parental values with their own religious values. That isn’t respecting families, parental choice, or freedom.

rusty
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

People marry for many reasons, but usually one or more of the following: legal, social, and economic stability; the formation of a family unit; procreation and the education and nurturing of children; legitimizing sexual relations; public declaration of love; or to obtain citizenship. (wikipedia)

My parents have been married over 58 years, but at the time of the marriage, their union was not accepted because it was a inter-faith union, my mother, a Catholic, and her mother was the county chair of the Democratic Party and my father, a Mason and Protestant, only had 7 people attend their union. But out of their marriage came 5 children, and one of those offspring ended up being gay.

Over the centuries, marriage has been a contract, with some marriages pre-arranged for financial reasons, to combine clans, to build the core of the community, to ensure the longevity of the family name. Religious institutions tracked marriages to help eliminate ‘in-breeding’. Family bibles and religious records documented marriages to ensure blood lines were kept strong. Yet in privileged ‘royal families’ inbreeding and marrying of close relatives occurred to keep ‘the family fortunes’. Pre-arranged marriages and dowries were common. Religious institutions even had sanctions against marry outside of those groups.

‘Be Fruitful and Multiply’ was the mantra. Prior to the wonders of modern medicine, many women died or suffered complications during delivery of a child, and many children died soon after being born because of the lack of ‘modern medicine’. Keeping families large helped ensure ‘keeping families strong’. Children were expected to care for their parents and their elders, although life expectancy was much shorter due to the lack of modern medicine. Children who did not marry often were the caretakers of the elders, for they also had the time and did not have children to care for.
With the increase of life expectancy combined with the ever so increasing ability to extend people’s lives through medical marvels, we now ship our elders off to communites of assisted living, retirement and nursing homes. Ah, what a wonder that is to ship off our parents off, only to have others take care of them.

With the fact that gay folk come from straight families, often times men/women who did not marry were unconfirmed bachelors/spinsters. In some circles, like the Roman Catholic church, men who got the calling to serve, married the church, and so did women, our Catholic nuns/Sisters. Other communities honored these single folk who did not or could not partner up.

But with the social changes, those folk who didn’t marry moved on to cities and enclaves began to form of all these folk. Thus the gay ghettos. Like minded LGBT folk started socializing, started forming relationships and thus some of these folk started looking to emulate the families they came from, to form relationships they yearned to create and maintain, like their siblings and parents.

Some of these folk who didn’t marry often were identified early through their outward expression of gender bending. There were the ‘nancy boys/sissies/momma’s boys’ and on the other end females that were ‘the tomboys’. But inside those circles there were the ‘normal’ siblings who could pass and yet within them, they too had feelings for the same sex.

Yes, in those large metropolitan circles, gays and lesbians are very visible and are very vocal in the SSM movement. But there are rural gays and lesbians who might want to seek SSM but have developed a nice life and have their community supporters.

Gay and Lesbian DINKs (dual income no kids) are out there, along with many single LGBT folk who are not even interested in SSM. Just like in the dominant culture, not all heterosexuals will marry, either by choice or because of burned relationships, not all in the LGBT community will seek SSM.

Our lives have been extended through the marvels of modern medicine, our families have other options other than to have our elders return home for care, and LGBT folk are achieving more social acceptance (worldwide). But from the recent change of the 10% factor (1 out of 10 are LGBT) to the more conservative 4% of the general population being LGBT, SSM isn’t really going to upend the institution of marriage. There aren’t going to be a ‘majority’ of SSM couples seeking to destroy society.

Families are families. And in most families across the country, there are LGBT folk, be it a sibling, a parent, a cousin, an uncle or aunt. There are even multiple LGBT folk in some families. These are not oddities, these people are just like everyone else. And if some of these people are seeking SSM, I really don’t see why others are trying to limit these choices. Allowing SSM will actually benefit the institution of marriage, and help demostrate that committed folk can actually make things work.


ciao, rusty
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Suess

AJD
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

Ben, I would say the enemy is the religious right and its efforts to keep us in the closet. It has been the primary driving force thwarting progress on gay rights.

According to today’s SF Chronicle, the Yes On 8 campaign has already seized on this wedding to back up its claim that children are being “indoctrinated” to support same-sex marriage.

I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist — I prefer to be a realist. If this amendment ends up winning, I think the religious right needs a big, heaping dose of its own medicine. Examples include:

* Setting up a new biology research center at that community college in Sacramento, dedicated to Richard Dawkins, or setting up a journalism school dedicated to Christopher Hitchens

* Starting a campaign to eliminate “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance

* Starting a campaign to eliminate the “opt-out” provision from the education code, so that fundamentalists’ kids will learn about gay couples and how to put on a condom and have no choice in the matter (after all, why should certain kids get to take time off school and be exempt from the same schoolwork as everyone else just because they choose to believe a certain way?)

* Doing all of this under the slogan “No special rights for Christians”

I’m being semi-facetious here, but there’s no reason why these people should be able to just get away with discriminating against others.

Kevin
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

When you step back and realize that all of the political efforts the Religious Right has used against us is in reaction to what we’re already doing, then the logical response to fight them would be to continue doing what we’re doing, do more of it, and watch it spread.

Don’t fight fire with fire, cause it won’t work.

Our response to their “culture war” is not to fight them head on as “culture warriors”, but to replace their “war” with a Culture Peace.

We should wage a Culture Peace and that should be the aim of our movement.

Brady
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

Michael Savage picked this up on his show yesterday, but with a bit of spin. He said the kids were forced to go and their parents weren’t told (why he thinks 1st graders of any kind would be allowed to go on a field trip without parentl permission is beyond me). He also said that the Mayor should be arrested for child abuse.

It really amazes me how the far right, that claims to be the “moral” party can let lies just go unchecked.

AJD
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

Kevin, in some form or another, religious bigots have been mistreating gay people for the better part of 2,000 years — their “reaction” isn’t something that has appeared out of nowhere.

And “culture peace” hasn’t gotten us anywhere. All we have to show for it are a country that still has no nationwide protection against discrimination and hate crimes against gay people and nearly 30 states in which recognition of a same-sex marriage is equal to banning a newspaper.

People like MLK and Gandhi didn’t get anywhere by waging “culture peace.” They used sit-ins, boycotts and subversion.

I really think the whole reason why we keep losing is because we’re such an easy target. The bullies of the religious right know that if they pass an anti-gay-marriage amendment or thwart yet another attempt to add sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act, the most we’ll do is grumble about it and yell “Discrimination is wrong!” and call for love and understanding. They know they can get away with treating us like garbage because we won’t hit back. We’re like a hive of stingless bees.

Kevin
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

AJD,

Waging a Culture Peace isn’t the same as being passive. I think LGBTs have been so successful at gaining rights precisely because we’ve waged a Culture of Peace since the late 50’s on through the 60s, 70s, and so on.

Peace is always preferable to war in the psyche of the human race. Love is more powerful than hate, long term. Ghandi and MLK Jr. and yes, even Christ, won with love, not hate. That’s how they appealed to people.

Of course, you can’t ignore the political angle either. But in terms of the evolutionary advantage peace and love have over hate and oppression, it’s clear which side we need to be on.

That’s why, when presenting a challenge to the anti-gay “culture warriors”, we need to present an alternative that promises greater things than simply “winning” a culture war that is, for all intents and purposes, one-sided.

Part of our dialogue in this very forum is a great example of waging a Culture Peace and thanks to Jim, Daniel, and Timothy for providing it.

cowboy
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

I, for one, am not stingerless.

(And thanks for a great idea for a Halloween costume!)

AJD
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

As of late, gay-rights activism has been very passive. In Indiana, where I went to college, local groups’ response to the General Assembly’s passage of a gay-marriage amendment was to shout “Shame! Shame! Shame!” at the legislators and then stand outside holding up cardboard coffins.

Meanwhile, most of the rhetoric coming from groups like HRC consists of simplistic talking points, but hardly anyone has ventured to point out in a way likely to be heard by the voting masses what is obvious: None of the arguments in favor of these amendments has any merit whatsoever.

Instead, all I hear are calls for fairness and equality. Those certainly have their place, but from my experience, they often fall on deaf ears because most of the people supporting these amendments don’t even think they’re doing anything discriminatory, and they don’t see the cognitive dissonance inherent in saying “I think homosexuality is immoral” and following that with “I’m not homophobic.”

Like I said, I was being semi-facetious when I suggested things like building a biology school named for Richard Dawkins and eliminating the opt-out provision (note the “semi-,” meaning I wouldn’t necessarily be against doing that).

However, this is as good a time as any to talk about reinforcing church-state separation and pushing the religious right people back into their caves. Just think about it: Every single one of these amendments has been based on lies and irrationality, yet almost every one has passed, despite our best efforts and our impassioned calls for fairness and equality and compassion. Any culture in which a document that is supposed to secure and exemplify democracy can be used for exclusion has some serious problems.

The idea of turning the other cheek has always struck me as an invitation to predation. As long as we countenance these people’s coded hate speech and treat them as if they actually have a legitimate cause, they will continue to bully us. There’s nothing wrong with condescension and calling people stupid when they really are stupid.

Jonathan
October 14th, 2008 | LINK

I found out about the field trip from a Focus on the Family video feature titled ‘First grade field trip to a gay “marriage”‘. Watch the video. FOTF wasn’t able to spin this one to their liking because it’s a real love story. The video presents a weak case. Love is real and weddings are about love, family and community.

Couples wed on their own schedule, and they invite their family and friends and students. People live their lives in real-time and do what they think is right. Their decisions might not always make political strategists happy, but that’s not their job. If they didn’t do that (live their lives with integrity), there would be no grass-roots political movement for the political strategists to advance in the first place.

Ben in Oakland
October 15th, 2008 | LINK

AJD– i have been saying this over and over again, but met with deaf ears.

They are fighting an anti-gay and anti marriage intiaive without showing and gay people, our families, or anything. they are unionterested in meeting the public. there is apparently no speaker’s bureau at no on 8.

If we lose on 8, it will be very much like tienanmen square in China. Our pitiful “liberal philosophy” of “play nicely” cannot stand up to the tank of hate. It hasn’t worked before, and it is not working now.

Ben in Oakland
October 15th, 2008 | LINK

I left out one sentence– It just stinks of the closet.

AJD
October 15th, 2008 | LINK

Ben, that’s my point exactly. It makes no sense to be throwing twigs when the other side is shooting arrows.

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