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Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Jan. 15 - Jan. 21)

by Jeremy Hooper


Dear NOM Watchers,

I had terrible dental surgery last weekend. It was invasive and expensive; there's a long recovery period; there are (still) limited foods that I can eat. The pain was actually not terrible, but the annoyance was (/is) quite high.

But as with most situations in my life, this experience did present me with a takeaway to apply to my work: One about words, meaning, and the reasons why common code are so important to understanding.  Let me explan.

The moment came after the surgery, when I was sedated and slurred. The surgeon had several questions in order to get me down the elevator, to the street, and back to my apartment safely. Some were straightforward.

"How do you feel?" he asked.

"uhkeh," I mubmled back.

Some of the questions were slightly more detailed.

"How are you getting home?" he wondered.

"Caaa," I answered, meaning to suggest an automobile, not a yappy bird.

I even tried some of my own questions for him. For example, "Wheh di ah poo my hah?" was my way of asking for my snowcap. And "Wehns ma nuh uhpoinmon?" was my inopportune query about my next visit. Both of my ill-conceived attempts needed to repeated more than once.

Then came the biggie: The exchange that speaks to our fight against NOM. The one that has specific implications this week, when we -- both us and NOM -- are focused on New Jersey and the fight over whether civil unions will be bumped up to marriage.

"Who's picking you up?" the dentist asked. "A car service, a friend -- who?"

"Mah huhbuh" I instantly (and proudly) shot back. I only had to say it once. The recognition was easy and instant. In New York, men have husbands.

It wasn't until later in the day, when I pulled out of my druggy haze, that I fully considered the exchange. I thought about how easy it was for me, yet how hard it would be for so many. Here I was, at a vulnerable moment, when easy information exchange was everyone's top interest. Had I been in a less gay-friendly city, I might have had hesitation about saying anything, regardless of my legal connection to my other half. But even if I was just across the river in NJ, what would I have done? Would I have gone ahead and shorthanded the responded with "husband," even if that wasn't what this person legally was in the eyes of my state's law? Would I have made my usual, pre-marriage activist point of deliberately not using the term, so as to remind my neighbors that I am unequal under the law? Whatever I did, it would have come with an extra level of consideration, for sure.

And these kinds of considerations can actually extend to all of us, married or not. Since my marriage is not legally recognized as a marriage in a neighboring state like NJ -- and not at all in most other states -- there is the question of whether my response is supposed to be generated by the fact that I have married in state where I could, or if my level of equality is should be shaped by the state where the interchange takes place. Plus since we're all unequal in very real ways under DOMA, there are questions that arise in places where federal law reigns supreme. Traveling internationally at an airport comes to mind as a place where my husband and I, during the passport process where married couples can step through the line jointly, are reminded of our inequality.

But in NY, we do have state-level recognition, which lends an obvious and appreciated ease. As a New Yorker who was married before last year, I've actually noticed a shift in local, recognition in the six months since NY legalized marriage, with people now understanding it as an easy option for my husband and me. Before, when our state only recognized out-of-state marriages but would't perform in-state ones, Andrew and I would sometimes have to explain our state-level-equality-in-NY-by-way-of-Connecticut dance. Nowadays, it's much easier to be understood.

Looking back at that one tiny moment, I'm certainly thankful that I am someone who was able to be married, that do live in state where people get that, and that, at a time when saying just two words was two words too many, that it was my easy instinct to talk in the easy code that society understands. But here in America, during most situations in most of our states, most of us don't have that ease. We need it. We deserve it. We are owed the currency that all of our country recognizes.

At that hour, I was in no mood for comedy. Few would be.

At this time, I am in every mood for comity. All should be.


Please keep marriage Chris/Christie

Speaking of the currently-civil-unioned NJ: This week NOM began an obvious (and at times humorous) PR game directed at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Using the most glowing prose that could come from their organizational keyboards, NOM staffers were in full-on "Kiss Christie booty" mode.

Here's but one snip:

Screen Shot 2012-01-20 At 6.26.36 Pm

"Would break a lot of hearts" for him to bring marriage to a lot of hearts? Ugh, gag me.

The obvious NOM fear is that Christie, a rising GOP star in a state where GOP doesn't always mean what it does nationally, will look at the recent polling in his state, look to his neighbors across the Hudson, and ultimately sign a marriage bill. Or, at the very least: Not veto one.

Honestly, I think it's a very valid fear on NOM's part. Chris Christie has had a recognizable shift in tone on the subject, with even his repeated convictions about favoring only man/woman marriage sounding less like policy statements and more like personal opinions. It's kind of what we heard from someone like Gov. John Lynch (NH) or Gov. Chris Gregoire (WA) before they eventually recognized the untenability of their positions. NOM certainly sees and hears it too -- and they are scared Chris-less!

Keep a close eye on the Garden State, kiddies. This one would be HUGE!!


Another 500, K?

NOM committed to two other states this week. In New Hampshire, they promised $250K to legislators who support their mean-spirited attempt to repeal in-place marriages. In Washington state, they pledged the same amount towards funding primary challenges to any GOP lawmaker who votes in favor of marriage equality. That's $500,000 of faith-motivated cash in total.

Take that, hungry and homeless!


SRLC: Some Really Low Crowds

NOM was a sponsor of this week's Southern Republican Leadership Conference, the event where this week's GOP debate was held. So that being the sponsored reality, I found it pretty funny when NOM's own Cultural Director, Thomas Peters, tweeted this on Friday afternoon:

Screen Shot 2012-01-20 At 6.35.33 Pm

Funny, yes. Although also kind of crappy for Thomas to say this about an event his own employer sponsored. I did hear from most everyone (and see on CSPAN) that the event was a disaster, with some major speeches attended by, no joke, less than 50 people. But still, that's the kind of thing you carp about privately, not publicly, especially with a full day left to go in the conference!


Speaking of cutting out early
I'm going to go ahead and stop here for this week so that I can go milk my recovery period for a few more hours. It's been a trying week and there's a big one coming up!


Until next week, my curing canines,


Jeremy Hooper
Good As You/NOM Exposed

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