Heather L. Barmore
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Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices


    A not so brief word on DOMA

    "Still, blacks remain the ethnic group least likely to support same-sex marriage. Only 30 percent say they back the unions, compared with 53 percent of all Democrats, 44 percent of whites and 41 percent of Hispanics, according to polling from the Pew Research Center."

    After the Proposition 8 vote in California, I spoke to my uncle who lives in Sacramento and asked how he voted he said, "Yes, of course" and then went on with the conversation while I sat there catching flies in my wide open mouth. A few days later, during a gathering in my apartment, the mostly lesbian crowd made a mention that because of the high turnout of black voters for then candidate Obama, they - or I should say 'we' - were responsible for the passage of Prop 8 which would restrict the definition of marriage to be those that are between a man and  a woman. My ire hit a new level as did my hurt meter. For nothing brings my blood to a boil than when an entire group whether it be by gender, race or religion is referred to as a cohort. One who all think the same, react the same, feel the same as if they weren't speaking of a group compiled by individuals who may share one characteristic but no, their brains are not melded together. So when I heard that it was the demise of same sex marriage in California was at the fault of blacks I was dumbfounded. I walked into the kitchen for a few deep breaths and when a friend came looking for me explained why I was so shaken by such a statement.

    It's because I don't care about your marriage. No, really, I do not care about your marriage or any of the specifics. It is YOUR marriage. Not your marriage plus the entire state of New York and random and sundry politicians. When I hear such vehemence with regard to same sex marriage and couples I first roll my eyes, then become furious and finally disheartened by the direction this country is taking and the ignorance of some. How is it anyone else's business is my first question. The relationship of your neighbors has no bearing on your marriage. Perhaps take up a different hobby like knitting or golfing or worrying about your own business. Which means that yes, I scratch my head at the 'they're ruining the sanctity of marriage!!11!!" argument. Because really? Did you see the oft retweeted quote about Kelsey Grammer being on his fourth marriage while David Hyde Pierce has been with the same person for 25 years and yet they are unable to marry. Yeah…that.

    Last week the President went from 'evolving' in his position on the issue of same-sex marriage to saying that the administration - The Department of Justice, specifically - would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA; the federal law that bans same sex marriage. Hurrah! I thought. Now we can get to more important issues like questioning why every bill in the Republican led House references killing and/or crushing. And then I went on with my life. That is until a piece in the Washington Post caught my eye: "African Americans respond to Obama's shift on DOMA". If you were sitting in front of me right now you would've been able to witness my eyes rolling up and out of my head. Because for some reason articles like this make me itch. I suddenly get all self-conscious again with my mind going to that moment in my apartment.

    Here's the thing, and the Post pointed this out as well: Church-going black folks aren't generally down with same-sex relationships. I will say that the ones I have encountered, which would be 90% of my very religious family are most certainly against it and will forever be a source of contention. The argument being that The Bible says it is wrong, so it is wrong. The end. My counter argument is a) how does this personally affect your life and b) I believe in God and I also think that God would want for us to be kind and accepting of one another no matter what. Then I shrug because I have long realized that this is not a conversation that needs to be continued.

    The Post goes on to say that there are pastors who acknowledge that though the President has evolved into change it isn't a be all, end all. Though I do still find it discouraging that what will be continuously spread about blacks and homosexuality is that we are all vehemently against it. Some of us are, some of us aren't. But yes, we, myself included are sometimes raised in families where homosexuality was never discussed and was looked upon as sinful. But! - my final but - much like the President there are many of us who are able to evolve and learn from those around us and see, comprehend and come to new conclusions. That is what I wanted to see in this article and continue to hope for; that blacks are not one in the same and that we are able to change.

    I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I don't like pieces where I feel lumped together as an Everyone. I wish there wasn't still the us vs. them mentality when it comes to blacks as a giant similar-thinking mass. Then again without pieces like this I wouldn't be able to write long-winded diatribes as to how discouraged I am. So at least there's that.

    Fired up

    "No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session."  ~Author Unknown

    Things have been quiet around these parts as I attempt to wrap my head around what is going on across the country. When it comes to politics we in the business are often so focused on what is going on in our backyards which makes it next to impossible to see what is happening outside of our immediate line of sight. Then came Wisconsin:

    The labor movement is used to being spat upon and told that it does more harm than good. That workers would be happier without collective bargaining rights and that those protecting teachers are distasteful. Unions are looked upon either with confusion (why are you still relevant?) or disdain (why do you protect crappy workers?) but no one ever makes the attempt to understand. And frankly, I don't blame them. We all are so focused on our own issues and problems that we cannot seem to find the time to fix something that is happening 'out there'. I just started forcefully pointing as if you could see me and I wish you could hear the severity of what is happening right now in my voice but what is happening in Wisconsin; a Governor willing to take everything away from the people he was supposed to protect can happen anywhere. This isn't just a labor issue and if you think that it is then you have not been paying attention.


    There are Governors and members of Congress who think that what happened in November of 2010 was a mandate on their agenda. Screw the minority, screw compromise, I'm here to take charge is what they say. On Morning Joe last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that he was part of a group of Governors elected to change things and they were going to make a change. Well there's a difference between change and telling your constituents to bend over.

    Apologies all around for being crass but it's true. And now I'm angry because who the hell do they think we are? People aren't just going to roll over and play dead while you take away their rights and now they know, this new class of Governors, that they have woken a sleeping giant; the Labor Movement. And like hell are they going to back down. Like hell the middle class is going to back down. You wanted a fight and now you have one.

    End of that rant.

    On Saturday unions, community supporters, business people, and politicians got together at rallies across the country in support of what is happening in Wisconsin. I attended the rally in Albany in the capitol park and to see that sea of people, out there in the cold hours after a snow storm, while people driving up Swan St. beeped in support was a beautiful thing. I've been in need of something to get me en fuego once again and unfortunately but fortunately this is it.

    Photos live here

    The Union Thing

    "The most violent element in society is ignorance." ~Emma Goldman

    The Screen Actors Guild or SAG awards is on tonight. Full of stars and pretty dresses and Guilianna Rancic being deliciously awkward. Good times. But you do know that the SAG is a labor union, right? A full fledged, AFL-CIO voting labor union. You know those pesky unions and their need for giving workers protection and making sure employees are safe and compensated fairly? Yeah. One of THOSE unions.

    Then there's the NFL Players Association. The same association preparing for a lock-out next season. The same NFLPA that has recently decided to join state AFL-CIO affiliates because of the solidarity and the protection? Again with the whole nasty evil union thing. But it's the NFL and it's ok and allow me to report on the irony of those in Right to Work states (places where it is harder to organize) being their most ardent supporters. The NFL players deserve more, they say. They do so much! That's one way of looking at it but what about car manufacturers, steelworkers and bricklayers? Do they not deserve the same protections as the actors and the NFL players?

    People say 'union' with disdain especially when it comes to teachers unions which are looked down upon like no other. God forbid teachers are paid fairly and are given due process. And shhh, don't say 'pension' out loud. Public employees are forced into furloughs and pay freezes meanwhile Eli Manning is the hundred million dollar man. Are we seeing the disgusting irony in all of this? If a teacher could throw quickly while in the pocket would that make it OK? Or what if the teacher was a multi-millionaire who could make billions for a movie studio? How about then?

    Why can Aaron Rodgers and Natalie Portman be given a contract and paid for their work but not your kid's sixth grade teacher? I don't get it. Even more bothersome is that by these standards it's the former who is clearly worth more and that makes me sad and angry more than anything.