hear now in the body

Same Sex Marriage–It’s Good For You…Who Knew?

(The above is a rhetorical question!)

You may wonder what prompted me to post a piece I had written in 2008 in 2012 (my previous post “An Answer to…Why Do They Want To Marry?”).  It’s not because I like to hear myself, but a friend of mine sent me a message today about an interesting study which I am attaching below.

Same-Sex Marriage Laws Reduce Doctor Visits and Health Care Costs for Gay Men

Mailman School Main Feature Graphic *

Gay men lead healthier, less stress-filled lives when states offer legal protections to same-sex couples, according to a new study examining the effects of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. The study, “Effect of Same-Sex Marriage Laws on Health Care Use and Expenditures in Sexual Minority Men: A Quasi-Natural Experiment,” is online in the American Journal of Public Health.

“Our results suggest that removing barriers to marriage improves the health of gay and bisexual men,” said Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, PhD, lead author of the study and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the Mailman School. It also saves money in healthcare costs.

In the 12 months following the 2003 legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, gay and bisexual men had a significant decrease in medical care visits, mental healthcare visits, and mental healthcare costs, compared with the 12 months before the law change. This amounted to a 13% reduction in healthcare visits and a 14% reduction in healthcare costs. These health effects were similar for partnered and single gay men.

Among HIV-positive men, there was no reduction in HIV-related visits, suggesting that those in need of HIV/AIDS care continued to seek needed healthcare services.

For the study, researchers surveyed 1,211 patients from a large, community-based health clinic in Massachusetts that focuses on serving sexual minorities. Examining the clinic’s billing records in the wake of the approval of Massachusetts’ same-sex marriage law, researchers found a reduction in hypertension, depression, and adjustment disorders—all conditions associated with stress.

“These findings suggest that marriage equality may produce broad public health benefits by reducing the occurrence of stress-related health conditions in gay and bisexual men,” Dr. Hatzenbuehler said.

Previous studies have documented that excluding lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals from marriage has a stressful impact on this population. Dr. Hatzenbuehler’s study is the first study to examine whether same-sex marriage policies influence healthcare use and healthcare expenditures among sexual minorities. Lesbians were not included in the survey due to insufficient sample size among the patients who visit the clinic.

“This research makes important contributions to a growing body of evidence on the social, economic, and health benefits of marriage equality,” Dr. Hatzenbuehler said.

The research  was supported by the Fenway Institute, the Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars program.*

* The research findings presented here are those of the researcher and are not necessarily the views of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

December 15, 2011

What occurred to me was that the post “An Answer To…” was trying to address the macrosociological element addressed by this very study in healthcare.  In the largest sense, whether persons who love each other of mixed, same sex, gender presentations or identities decide to get married.  On a macro scale the freedom to make choices is better for all.  That’s what all the isms take away, a freedom to choose the elements of the components of one’s identity.  We are all composites of so many things that to deny any one of us a right to be who our very being directs us to be is simply…lest I judge.  For I too must continually work on catching myself judging, moralizing, placing my expectations on persons/cultures/presentations of humanity.

This is becoming a bit too esoteric and that will make it rife for criticism, but I am working this out myself as well and claim no hold on “having the right answer”.

I just know that we are given expectations by society, family, friends, culture, etc. and the realization of those expectations are crucial markers or rites of passage.  The issue of same sex marriage has just brought this very subconscious pressure I have put on myself to the fore to be examined.  And I have found that, while I am not in a relationship, the freedom to choose whether or not I marry has lifted a huge burden off of me.  I can dream of a nuclear and extended family that fits my dream; the dream of a thirteen year old boy holding hands with his mate–ringed and having said I do, after having heard the words in front of family and friends, “You may kiss your love…”

And just as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has issued its disclaimer so do I…

*The male centric focus of this study and its exclusion of women and other gender representations is strictly that of the researcher and its funding source and is not necessarily the lens through which Derrick McQueen operates.

An answer to…”Why Do They Want To Marry”

Friends, I suddenly realized that I have been referring to a post that I previously wrote on gay marriage that was not posted in “hear now in the body”. Here is that original post in its entirety from 2008. This helps set the foundation for the work I have been doing in regards to gay marriage ever since:

To clarifiy–
The entry below is in response to a heterosexual friend of mine truly trying to understand why the defeat of Prop 8 in CA drew such notice. He asked in all sincerity, “Why do they want to be married?” He mentioned that even he wasn’t so sure if this marriage thing, esp. via the church was truly a valid idea. Especially since most Prostestant churches reject marriage as a sacrament (the only two being communion and baptism.).  After an initial conversation, these thoughts ensued.  Peace

Answer to “Why do they want to marry?” 11/21/08

As I said, just wanted to pass along a few thoughts about this marriage thing.
I think the very real need to be “married” goes beyond the concept of  ”equal rights under the law or from another perspective forcing same sex marriages on a society that might not be ready for it” (his words). Your question was why do some feel they want or even need this so badly? Dealing with the politics and church political ramifications of it are very real but I feel they are a smoke screen for the real discussion as to “why?”

I can tell you that in realizing and/or coming into one’s “orientation” there is a struggle no matter who you are. It is a psychological process that isolates and one cannot imagine that anyone else has ever gone through what you are going through at that moment. Things to face are rejection of friends and family-either lovingly or violently (lovingly=”we understand and love you but what did we do wrong, we will never have grandkids, our lives are forever changed now, etc.” while violently=how could you do this to us, if you can live the right way get out, why did God have this abomination come from me, that is a disgusting, depraved community and deserve whatever it gives you, etc”.)

Despite the ultimate reactions, the truth of the matter is that the training and ideals of family (mostly heteronormative ideals) are ingrained into LGBTQ folk just as they are into hetero folk. We’ve all been groomed to find partnership in life, become family with that person and that the final true public/spiritual testament to that love is to be married in the eyes of God and a company assembled. Heterosexuals have a choice of whether or not this is necessary for their lives. Heteros have the privilege (damn Union word slipped out, a liberal seminary inside joke) of whether or not to be married, whether or whether or not to have children, etc. The point is that the common starting point for us all is that ideal ingrained into us from childhood-marriage.

LGBTQ life at least in regards to these proscribed ideals, is full of personal loss. Identity has to be reformed and all of those cultural/religious aspirations either must be given up or somehow redefined to match the identity that has been shaped for you with the identity that has been shaped by you in no small part by your sexual affinity. It is here where I think the question “why marriage” can be answered. It seems to me that identity is, especially once we realize that we have some say in our own identity formation, something we cling to for dear psychological and spiritual life. The less we have to shed from those core years of identity formation the more secure we are in growing into our own person. Our choices become clearer because our foundation stronger.

In LGBTQ identity formation, those building blocks that are cultural, familial, and societal are the hardest to reframe because our input on their importance in our lives has been so limited. It is like the game Jenga-trying to build an identity while with each round of life you realize the pieces of your identity that culture and society takes away is from your foundation. You can still grow and be strong and find where the new pieces fit but you are forever aware of the precarious nature of your identity because those foundational pieces like marriage, civil rights, human rights-all the things we grow up expecting– are slowly being removed because of your sexual affinity/orientation. It’s not even that it is a malicious thing. It’s just the way things are set up. I think marriage represents much of this foundational identity formation. Now that there is even the remotest of possibilities of putting this foundational piece of identity formation (marriage) back in place, people are reclaiming the piece.

Of course, there is the issue of whether or not these social constructs cause more damage than good. But at this stage of the game it doesn’t matter, that debate will go on much ad infinitum. The fact is that these constructs are in place and until equality exists the place of conversation is not a level playing field. Strangely enough it seems to me the fight for marriage equality is more of a fight for a place of privilege from which one can choose whether or not to marry. That’s my personal opinion, but it seems to me a perverse use of luxury. But then again, isn’t so much of what we fight for a perverse pursuit of luxury?
Posted by D’Rock’s House

LOST IN TRUTH…

I just read this wonderful story about a woman who met a man that she fell in love with while his soul led him to the same conclusion.  To put it in her own words which is the title of her post (link below), “It Happened to Me:  I Told My Boyfriend I Was Born a Boy.”  About ten years ago, I would have read this story with a lack of understanding of how this story of love is like so many others; or even stories of love that can go so wrong.

I am a single same gender loving man, with no partner.  But I so identify with this post.  My first reaction to it is visceral.  How powerful is it to be found when you are lost in your own truth.  Lost because no one wishes to search for you; lost because you have been hurt too many times when you have tried to venture out; lost because you have come to expect people to run the other way when they hear your truth.

This small reflection could very easily turn into the sadness of unrequited love but it runs much deeper than that.  I think the idea of the church as an unrequited lover for members of the LGBTQ community is a valid one.  I think of the first dates of showing some vulnerability thinking, “maybe this time this church won’t run from me when they know my trust” only to have it happen again, and again, and again…but each time we return it gets a bit harder to tell our truth because we are in love with the community that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit calls us to be a part of.  How disorienting to leave those first, second, third and even fourth dates only to hear that you don’t matter, that you don’t fit the profile the church is looking for.  How disorienting to find that the church can actually reject you just like an intended paramour.  It is enough to make you wonder is it God that is rejecting me as well.

And so you get lost in your own truth while in plain view of the rest of the world, wondering how much of you to actually let people get to know.  But then I run across a story like this one and it hits me that the church can reject you for not fitting its profile; for it too is flawed because it is guided by human intentions.  But your truth is connected to the Divine.  I feel that God wants me to bask in my truth not get lost in it.  I feel that God wants me and my truth to shine forth in the purity of light that is its ultimate potential.  I feel that the churches rejection is not God’s intention.  And so I am here, welcomed, scarred but healed because I now have a roadmap for my truth and never have to be lost in it again…so long as I keep my truth and my love in the loving arms of the one who has loved me from the beginning.

But don’t be fooled by the reality either, there is much work to do.  The SGL/LGBTQ community has work to do in loving us who are in the church as we press forward to ram the doors open.  We need the love of community too.  So let us figure this out together.  See my truth…don’t runaway from it.  I don’t want to be lost, I want to be on the journey with all my brothers and sisters in this big old human family.  Optimistic?  Yes.  But workable?  Also, yes.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janet-mock/transgender-coming-out_b_1146414.html

OWS from a Chaplain’s POV: Guest Post

MZR-Yandle is a person who is committed to the ideation of gender activism moving past monikers, physical and sexual  iterations. This Guest Post invites you into MZR Yandle’s  expression in the reality of activism outside of sexuality, but with sexuality/gender–reality/expression (think algebraic formula).  I use “MRZ” to help us thing outside the box.  ”Yandle” has not endorsed this but understand where I am coming from.

Thank you.

And please take a look at MZR’s  blog as well.

http://thetomboyeffect.wordpress.com/

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seraphim delight
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OCT 2011
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Occupy The Collar.

Today ushers in the 44th day of the OWS movement. It has been 21 days since I first began to wear a collar at OWS to signal myself as a spiritual presence. As a seminarian, I am preparing for ordination to become a minister in the United Church of Christ. Being a visibly queer clergyperson affords me opportunities of observance and experience that are unique to this particular kind of embodiment. Looking obviously queer upon first glance is exhausting. I am also often the token GenderQueer, which means receiving the special task of defending my sexuality AND my gender expression in one fell swoop; put a collar on that mess and now I am the target of people’s angst and anxiety of unresolved sexuality issues, gender woes, and religious baggage.

Churches hurt people. Ministers say hateful things. That turmoil often gets projected on me in my work at Zuccotti. Unintentionally, I have suddenly become the symbol of shattered dreams and unspoken rage. Sometimes this results in angry looks and questions of why I am part of “such a fucked up and oppressive system.” Other times I find myself in a full on debate about the correct place of a spiritual person inside of politics. I receive this turmoil as best I can, with a gentle spirit and a calming way. Every once in a while I get hugs and heartful words of gratitude. I take the good with the bad. This is what it means to be with people when shit gets real.

My religious tradition has been ordaining folks like me since 1972. In my previous life I came from a denomination that was not quick on embracing its queer members and clergy hopeful folks. I get the frustration; I receive the pain from a place of genuine knowledge. This being said, I also feel the strength of a long lineage of religious leaders who aren’t afraid of shouting yes into arenas where people are screaming no. Fredrich Buechner says that vocation is “where your deepest longing meets the world’s greatest need”. For every one of me there are hundreds who think I am living in sin and are in grave disapproval of my “lifestyle,” much less my vocational choices. But I don’t really care. I don’t do this work just to trump the religious right, evangelical fundamentalists, or anyone else who has traditionally had serious problems with my community. Just like my sexuality and gender expression, this calling is not a choice. The only choice I made was to accept this life. Boldly, I go into this work with radical love in my heart and the struggles of folks like me in mind. Jesus always stands on the side of love; he would have been shoulder to shoulder with the occupiers. And so, I am reclaiming Christianity as I Occupy Wall Street.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.”

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In Honor of United Nations Day October 25, 2011

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“Bishop Charles Blake endorses gay marriage declaration”

So read the headline of the Gay Christian Watch Movement in 2008 after Bishop Charles Blake the leader of the Church of God In Christ, signed The Faith In Human Rights Statement.  In 2008, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands called together faith leaders from around the world hoping to get these faith leaders to sign the statement in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Attached are links to the documents if you choose to read them for yourselves, including that of the Gay Christian Watch Movement.  Why bother addressing this issue three years later?  After all, many of us have never even heard of this controversy.  And let’s be honest, because it occurred with the leader of a Black Church denomination it was not been on the forefront of any major news coverage in 2008.  Discussing the state of race and media, however, is not the purpose of this post.

No, the purpose of this post is to be aware of the tactics and rhetoric of the Gay Christian Watch Movement and others who ascribe to anti-gay terrorism.  In general, the Faith in Human Rights Statement is simply a mea culpa of the world’s religious leaders that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although over sixty years old, has not been achieved.  Queen Beatrix brought together these religious leaders so that they might acknowledge the churches role in not working towards its realization.  Does the GCWM really think that with all of the crimes around the world, from continued trafficking and slavery, regimes of terror, wars and tactics of war should be rendered secondary in global and spiritual importance simply because they don’t like GLBTQ/SGL persons?

When the Gay Christian Watch Movement led with this headline in 2008, they were definitively stating that the UDHR was a pro-gay marriage document.  Let’s be real about this, was the world really thinking about gay marriage in 1948?  Is this the secret meaning to Article 16?

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

If the GCWM were being truthful it would simply state that this article has been adopted by the equal marriage movement that is being championed in LGBTQ/SGL communities, now that would be a bit more honest.  But no, it ascribes this article can only mean a support of gay marriage.  Never mind that it also applies to William Jeffs, the polygamist convicted for marrying young girls.  Never mind that post 1948 it also defined as a right, the ability for blacks and whites to marry.  It is the insidious nature of the twisting of truth that is at the heart of the matter.  Differing opinions and debate are one thing, but the vilification of someone like Bishop Blake over signing a document that supports the rights of all for dignity towards peace is another.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with the anti-gay stance of the Church Of God In Christ.  But I vehemently disagree with the inherent racism of the GCWM that finds it even plausible to try and rip apart an African American Black Church tradition simply to promote its own agenda.  How reprehensible to sow the seeds of discontent in somebody else’s house while not minding your own.

I have a proposition for the GCWM.  Read the Faith In Human Rights statement and take some of its advice:

“study carefully our holy scriptures and teachings and to explore the theological rationale in defence of human rights; provide responses where harm has been done in the name of religion and seek ways of forgiveness and reconciliation in order to foster mutual respect and understanding among our communities;”

Although Bishop Blake stands by his denomination’s anti-gay stance, he has committed to lead a denomination under this matrix.  I can disagree with him, but I can walk side by side with him to help bring the grace of God to all people, to bring a bit of God’s realm to this time, to this place.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:  http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a16

The Faith In Human Rights Statement: http://www.oikoumene.org/fileadmin/files/wcc-main/2008pdfs/faith_human_rights.pdf

The Gay Christian Watch Movement:   http://gcmwatch.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/bishop-charles-blake/