Why LGBT Dog Parents Need That Piece of Paper

lgbt rights

“Does it really matter if you are married? I mean everybody knows you are together and you love each other, so who cares about a piece of paper?”

These are the words said directly to my face recently by someone who shall remain nameless. I don’t want to embarrass said person on this blog but I also believe nameless is not alone in this conclusion.

A piece of paper holds a lot of weight, especially when that piece of paper is a legal marriage license.

This blog is about the health and wellness of dogs and that includes the well being of dog moms and dads. After all, if your emotional, mental, and/or physical health is jeopardized, this both indirectly and directly affects your dog.

The Reality of That Paper

I’ve fought long and hard for a marriage license. I’ve held my breath when it came close to being legal for me to get married and then I sadly exhaled when my rights were denied. Over and over and over. So when June 12, 2014 came along and the words “I do” were legally uttered aloud, I hoped and prayed then, as I do now, that those who lived on this Earth and were denied their marriage rights could hear me loud and clear.

I am a dog mom, dog lover, dog writer, dog blogger, my heart beats dog™, and I am finally married. I despise labels in the same way most folks do. No one wants to be judged for one aspect of their overall being. When you meet someone and the topic of marriage comes up, do you ever ask if the marriage involves a same sex or opposite sex partner? For the love of all things good in this world, you don’t, right?

It shouldn’t matter who we are married to as long as the marriage involves two consenting happy adults who both chose to be in that formal union as a solidification and proclamation of their love, both to each other and in the eyes of the law.

That law thing is where it gets funky.

lesbian married

I Write for Rights

If you missed it, I married my long-time significant other. I don’t like calling her my partner because it’s too business sounding. I feel like a scene out of Fifty Shades of Grey to call her my “lover” because she is so much more than that. And to say she is my “girlfriend” does not accurately describe Darlene. I married my long-time significant other on June 12, 2014.

I can still get married on a Sunday and fired on a Monday for being gay in the state of Pennsylvania. It’s the law.

Lovely, isn’t it?

Consider this:

In her recent article for the Huff Post, writer , shared, “LGBT Americans live in one of two distinct political environments, with very little in-between. We are either full citizens, or are left completely at the whims of the multitudes who would do us harm.”

I fall into the “L” portion of the LGBT reference, and I do feel the heavy weight of those who would prefer to do me harm.

There is no shame in who I am: That’s where the whole “pride” notion comes into play. I am very proud of being who I am and being made this way. I believe in God and worship spiritually but I do not believe a book written thousands of years ago should be used to grant nor deny my rights. Besides, that’s not very Godly. I abandoned the Catholic religion which I was raised with when I was in my 20s. I want to be worship with those who practice what they preach and I just didn’t feel that to be the case. Well that plus women aren’t held in the highest regard either.

I have nothing against those who worship but I do have a problem when that worship oozes into my rights and my life.

brides

Miles to Go Before We Sleep

In the same article, Tannehill writes, “The result of this widening gap will be an America where more than half the country can marry the person they love, but also be fired, denied housing, refused health care, denied service, and refused public accommodations because they got married in the first place.”

Think about that: I am living the life where I am true to self, happier than I’ve ever been, I no longer live behind a facade, and yet I can be so vehemently discriminated against that my life is made a living hell for being who I am?!

What the hell is wrong with this picture?

A lot.

Some states are nullifying anti-gay discrimination ordinances. Seriously, the very protections in place to protect folks who identify as LGBT are being legally dubbed “nope” by a select number of states.

Some bills allow for states to ignore civil rights laws if the state feels like doing so. Seriously, this means the people and businesses can refuse services for folks like me under the “religious freedom” bill passed in Georgia.

In Oklahoma, a bill to ‘pray away the gay’ died in the state House recently. The bill was introduced by anti-gay legislator Rep. Sally Kern in early 2015. In the bill, Kern sought to ensure that any parent who wanted their children to undergo “therapy” to change their sexual orientation or gender identity would have the right to do so, according to Advocate. com.

Wait, there’s more: An Oklahoma Democrat introduced an amendment to another anti-gay bill. Called the “Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act,” it specifically would require that: “no person be required “to participate in any marriage ceremony, celebration, or other related activity or to provide items or services for such purposes against the person’s religious beliefs.” This means businesses and charities could legally refuse to serve LGBT clientele.

A California lawyer proposes punishing homosexuality by shooting people in the head.  I can’t make this stuff up. Read for yourself.

I could go on and on, but a whole lot has happened since June of 2014 when I finally and legally got married, and the above is just a sampling of the hate.

These are scary times.

I am proud. I am out. People know. I don’t introduce myself as Gay Carol any more than you introduce yourself as Straight Marie (or any other name).

It’s a part of who I am, but just one part.

And the part of it that envelops me is loving, caring, giving, hard-working and continually feels like she has to defend herself and her character against hate-filled laws and abominations against my freedoms and rights.

I am a dog mom and this does matter.

At a recent press conference in Orlando, Florida, American Pet Products Association President, Bob Vetere, told the crowd that there are an estimated 79.7 people who own pets in this country alone.

A large portion of those pet owners identify as LGBT. I am one of them.

gay marriage
I love this book – highly recommended reading.

How Can You Help

There are things you can do to stop this madness. It is 2015 and there are days I wake up and feel like I am living in another century…one from the past.  No matter how you “identify” – whether gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, or lesbian (or something else I missed), basic human rights should not be denied. Hate-filled bills that discriminate behind cloaks of religion should not be passed.

But they are.

Here are a few things you can do as an ally and just as a good human being. If you are reading this and have a dog, then these are things you can do as a caring dog parent who believes in equality and fair treatment:

Ask questions and have clear answers: There is so much speculation and false information floating around, especially in a cyber age. Here are a few resources you can bookmark and refer to if you don’t feel like asking someone in the know directly when it comes to LGBT issues. These sites are provided by PFLAG:

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD): glaad.org
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates: outandequal.org
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force: thetaskforce.org
modern_family
My modern family
Speak Up: “That’s so gay” is not cool. I’ve begun calling people to task. When shopping in stores, I’ve actually asked someone not to use the term in my presence because it is offensive. Words can be harmful. Speaking up to stop words used as weapons takes a village. Speak out against statements and jokes that are disrespectful.
 workplace discrimination

Vote: Take a stance at the polls. Let your voice be heard and help to keep anti-gay discrimination bills and representatives from moving ahead.

For those reading this who are straight, you might be thinking, “I could care less what your sexuality is; I just want to read the great dog content on your blog.” I don’t want to focus on this one part of me any more than you want to hear how straight another blogger is on his or her website.

I just can’t stay silent any longer. Not when bills are attempting to get through that negate me as a human being.

Not when several states allowed a person to be fired for being LGBT. As of this writing, there is no federal law protecting LGBT workers against discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Though some states and cities have passed their own protections, there are 29 states where a person can actually be fired for being gay. 29. A 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 69 percent of Americans think that firing people for being gay is illegal. These twenty-nine states shown in red above currently lack statewide laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Gay women

Onward

I realize that I waited so long to share all of myself with my readers, my friends, my co-workers, and hell, the world for that matter because I was afraid: of being judged, chided, humiliated, fired, picked on, abused, harmed, ignored, laughed at, and most of all, losing those I truly care about.

Aren’t we all afraid of those very same things in some way, shape, or form at some point in our lives? I honestly could care less who someone marries or has a relationship with as long as it is consensual and no one is hurt.  There is a portion of society that feels the need to judge and point fingers and chide, humiliate, pick on, harm, laugh at, and put down those of us who are not seen as their equals.

It really does matter and so does that piece of paper giving me the same rights as the millions of other married couples in this country.

I wonder why dogs don’t care about stuff like that. It is in those moments I am reminded why my heart beats dog™, why this blog is called Fidose of Reality, and why I will never stop being true to who I am ever again.

Liked this article? Read more:

Ramifications of Coming Out as a Gay Mom with a Dog

My Dog Has Two Mommies

 Misconceptions About Gay People and Dogs

Comments

  1. What a wonderful post. My daughter and her wife face similar issues. In giving me 2 gorgeous twin granddaughters it cost them a fortune to set up legal protection in case Sarah died leaving Morgan with no rights to the girls. Legal expenses in ever knew they would have to go through given the fickle nature of laws that pass and are repealed and passed. Absurd that we still struggle like this and I hope my granddaughters don’t have to live in a world that targets anyone. Glad you wrote this and congrats on your marriage 🙂

  2. Really ‘lub’ this posting – it is important to care for all! What we do for one we do for all, and we do for us. Do not put out negativity as it comes full circle. We support LGBT – here in Seattle we go on equality marches and join our friends to celebrate their marriages! Thank you for being you Carol – you are love and light, and you deserve the best in life (and it seems you got it in Darlene!)! Blessings and much lub to you and yours!
    Mattiedog, A Little Dog Making a Big Difference in This World

  3. Two quotes popped into my head as I read this.
    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. ~ML King
    and…
    Man looks on the outward things, but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7) .
    As I see it – Accepting and even embracing people who are different than we are is an opportunity for us to emerge from our small worlds of limiting beliefs and transform into more loving, evolved beings. It has led to some interesting and beautiful acquaintances and friendships I may have missed out on. It has made me a better, more loving person.
    I think one of the most thought shifting questions I ever read went something like this, “Is God more pleased with the drunk who gives generously to those less fortunate than he, or the the person who sits in the pew and judges him for drinking?”
    Enough of my musings…be happy. Carol and Darlene. If you have love you are blessed.

  4. I don’t understand the narrow mindedness of some who think they have the power and the right to decide what is right for all. I hope more people will speak up with their actions and votes to ensure that every person has the same rights. I recently met a woman who has worked at a company for at least 2 decades. She shared with us that if she identified herself as transgender, the company could fire her on the spot. It is is unacceptable that it is legal to fire someone for sexual orientation in this day and age. Thank you for sharing these great resources!

  5. not sure if society will every change. i still get anti-semitic remarks said to me. i hear them all of the time. i have been even told go back to germany and let hitler take care of you. i over hear people making anti semitic remarks and i tell them i am Jewish. then i hear the response you dont look Jewish. What does Jewish look like? same things with LGBT. it was interesting on The Good Wife last nite. the character David Hyde Pierce plays said he was not gay but a Jesuit which is the reason he never remarried after his divorce. he said he refused to give in to the talk abt why people thought he was gay and explain. i am sick of people remarks, evil remarks. social media has made things so much worse. i just wish society and government would get their act together. many yrs ago, when i was growing up, i was not allowed in several places, country clubs , etc. b/c i am Jewish. this was in the 60’s and 70’s. i dont care whether you are gay, black, what religion you are, etc. all i care about is how you treat me as a person and if you are a good person. i guess you also have heard abt the back lash abt what designers Dolce and Gabbana have recently stated as well. a real back lash on their brand. maybe one day things will change however, i dont it…at least not in my lifetime.

  6. Every single human deserves the right to love and be loved. Every human deserves to put that commitment in writing, legally! I will never understand the mentality of people to judge someone like this. These “law makers” really need to be weeded out along with their barbaric ways. It’s people like you that are brave enough to share your story and show the world who you really are that are making a difference. You are a role model in more ways than you know!

  7. Why do people get married, LGBT or not ? To protect who they love. To be legally together, with legal rights. What sounds weird to us is that you can get married, but you can get fired for who you are. We’re sorry that some people are still “blind-minded” (does it exist ?) and cannot see if a person is good or not, but only see she’s white, black, gay or jewish. We need people like you sharing your story and showing that you’re simply… good and normal, with the same needs as everyone ! Purrs from us and Mum

  8. I applaud you and your Fidose of Reality expressed here today! Loving and being loved is what life should be all about–for humans and dogs as well. You are fortunate to have both. Hang onto your loves with all you’ve got!

  9. Congratulation on you marriage! I agree the term partner just doesn’t express the right relationship. I always found it strange! So glad you were able to get the piece of paper!

  10. I applaud you every time you touch on this subject. I know that your thoughtfulness will change hearts and minds in your favor.

  11. I’m sorry that people have been so hurtful to you. Even though you and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, I do love you and your blog. You are great at what you do. While I’m not a member of the LGBT community, I have been discriminated against for other reasons. People really suck sometimes. *hugs*

  12. I have started my response here about ten times. I tend to get on my soapbox and rant too much about this subject. Equal is equal for everyone and nobody has the right to legislate love. I will leave it at that. ♥

  13. I adore you and your “modern family”, and it simply pisses me off that in the 21st century, there are still people who think so narrow-mindedly about something that is so basic to us as human beings: LOVE. I’ll be honest: I respect people’s opinions on the subject even if they are different from mine because I believe we all have a right to believe the way that we want to believe. However, when someone else tries to force their opinion on me (or on you, in this case), that’s where I reach my boiling point. Live and let live, I say. Love is a beautiful thing, and I’m all for it in any form.

  14. Great post! I’m lucky enough to live in one of the states that protects LGBT people. In the past few years, we’ve seen huge improvements in the laws, with marriage equality legalized in dozens of states, but the people who want to be able to discriminate keep fighting. We’ll get there eventually, but it’s going to be hard work.

  15. Such a beautiful, inspiring post. My proudest moment of my job (that Ive had for 15 years) was last Spring when a Michigan judge ordered the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The ruling happened on a Friday night so a bunch of us came into work on Saturday and ended up issuing over 300 marriage licenses – it was amazing. I’ve never seen the halls of that courthouse so busy, packed, and happy. There were no fights or arguments as usual – it was pure joy. Unfortunately it didn’t last long – another judge overruled the first decision and now it’s still in the hands of the Supreme Court. I’m proud to say I was part of that day, part of the change, and part of the celebration.

  16. Excellent post! It is also a good reminder of how much further things still need to change. It is great that there has been so much movement among states in this area over the past few years, but it is not moving as much or as completely as it should. I hope that continues to change!

  17. Fantastic post Carol! A belated congratulations on your marriage last year, and early congratulations on your first wedding anniversary coming up this June! You, Darlene & Dex make a beautiful, modern family! I’m stunned that so many states still have such awful bias. In February 2014 in AZ, a bunch of haters put forth SB1062 , or as my husband and I call it “Stupid Bill 1062” which would have allowed businesses to refuse services to gay clients based on religious pretense. It caused a huge backlash in our state, and it was subsequently vetoed. It even jeopardized the ability for the Super Bowl to be hosted here this year, even they didn’t want any part of a state that would pass such a hateful bill! Legal marriage provides many significant legal benefits to couples such as social security, disability, medicare, veteran’s benefits, and more. Every lifelong couple should be given the right to these by marrying if they choose. As for states who allow firing based on gender bias, there are many great corporations who are very supportive of the gay community. Bring your talents to them, regardless of which state their offices are in they won’t discriminate. Soon the haters won’t have anyone left who wants to work for them – I know I don’t.

  18. Carol, I could write long paragraphs about how I feel about this issue. Two people who love each other should have the right to marry, to get the legal protection that a marriage license grants, to raise a family, to have a job, to just simply be a contributing member of society. Period. End of discussion. Except it isn’t the end because it hasn’t become a reality yet. I do my best to support equal rights for all people. I will continue to do so. And I have raised my children to do so.

  19. Beautiful. I had chills while reading it. If we all just loved an accepted people as our dogs do, wouldn’t this world be a beautiful place? You are absolutely right, the fight is not over and as voters we can continue to make our voices heard. It is not acceptable that individuals can still be fired or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Its naive to think that just because gay marriage has been made legal everything is now fair and free of discrimination. Thank you for sharing this 1 part of you with us. <3

  20. Great article . I feel my heart beats dog too . I am so thankful that they accept us the way we are !
    Love is love and I cannot fathom how any business could fire someone for love . That should be illegal !
    Cheers to your beautiful family 🙂

  21. Love is love. Period. I am proud to say, I have raised my girls teaching them that we all love from the same place no matter what our backgrounds and choices are. If this world loved like a dog loves, what a place it would be. To think that someone can actually be fired over their choices absolutely disgusts me, shame on them! Great post!!!

  22. I’ll never understand why humans are filled with such hate. I will never understand why someone wants to hate on anyone, no matter the circumstance. Then again, that is why I love dogs, they never look to hate, only to love. If only we could be more like them. I am so sorry that people choose to treat you wrong or judge you, if only they knew how awesome you were, because that is all that matters. *Hugs friend*

  23. Wow, what an amazing post. I am interested to know what laws are slipping by unbeknownst to the general public. I feel like lawmakers make the jargon purposely hard to understand. I love that rainbow “get up” on that pup! Congratulations on your recent marriage.

  24. Wonderful post on a very important topic! I couldn’t care less if someone was straight or not, black, white, red, green, whatever ~ as long as they are great with dogs (and animals in general) they’re good in my book. My best friend back in Germany is gay & I love & miss him dearly. My husband has two moms rather than a mom & a dad, so therefore I have 2 Mothers in Law 😉

    Congratulations on your marriage!

  25. What a wonderful and important post. It’s a shame how much discrimination still goes on in this country even with laws to protect people. Please keep fighting for your rights. My uncle and his partner Gary were happy for many years until Gary passed away after a brief illness. Life is too short to not be true to yourself and celebrate who you are.

  26. Embarrassed to say that Arizona is behind on the discrimination law. It’s funny because while I label myself as “conservative,” I’m all for gay marriage! Why shouldn’t people be allowed to love and marry who they want?! It’s absolutely absurd. This was a wonderful post. I remember last year all of the photos and Facebook posts the day Darlene asked you to marry her – gives me chills to this day! So happy for you fantastic ladies.

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