Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Husbands for life

July 21, 2008
Larry and Steve claim their happiness to the world after the wedding.

I had a very moving day a few days ago on July 10th. My friends Steve and Larry got married at the San Francisco City Hall. Attending a gay wedding as my first wedding in the US was of course interesting and different, for the least. I live in San Francisco, after all…But it actually was way more than that. I witnessed the consecration of 19 years of love between two exceptional individuals who made the commitment to love and support each other for better and for worse, in health and in sickness, in wealth and in poverty, for no less than six times to this date!

 

The French in me – meaning the political animal – would say: come on people, why does it have to be this hard for two persons who love each other and don’t harm anyone to be allowed to officially claim their love? Why does it have to take so long for them to be granted some basic human rights to protect each of them in case the worst happens to one of them? Is it because of the Bible? Because if it is, I beg you to remember that Jesus loved all his children: the poor, the ugly, the sick, the prostitutes. Is loving someone when you are the same sex such an evil act? I don’t intend to shock or to be provocative. I am just a sensitive woman who thinks there are worst things happening in this world that deserve skepticism, moral disapproval and punishment. And many of them don’t.

First ceremony in 1989. They climbed a mountaintop in a red-rock box-canyon in Sedona and exchanged their vows and a ring at the top.

This being said, let’s go back to my friends. 19 years of love, it matters. It’s more time than my parents stayed married after all. And boy, do these guys love each other… When Steve and Larry met in 1989 they had their first commitment ceremony on a mountaintop in a red-rock box-canyon in Sedona, AZ. They exchanged their vows and a ring during a spiritual ceremony after hiking up with their friends. Larry and Steve, after exchanging their vows in Sedona in 1989.

1989. Larry and Steve have just met.

1989. Larry and Steve have just met.

Then they moved to San Francisco for Steve to pursue his studies. On Valentine’s Day 1991, they made their second commitment and registered as domestic partners. San Francisco was the first city and county in the US to give this right to same-sex couples in the name of equal rights. This small ceremony at the City Hall allowed Larry to take advantage of Steve’s insurance coverage, which was better than his.
In April 2003, the same right was also granted by the State of California, in an extended version. My friends made their third commitment and registered as domestic partners at the State level. They had a small ceremony at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. This new legislation granted them more rights regarding medical matters, taxes and inheritance but also specified their responsibilities as a couple in the eyes of the law. According to Steve, the thousand or more rights defined in this legislation “made a big difference.”

Then on Valentine’s Day of 2004, the Revolution started. Appalled by George Bush’s declaration saying he intended to change the Federal Constitution to put an end to gay marriage, San Francisco’s freshly elected mayor Gavin Newson decided to uphold the State Constitution. In the name of non discrimination against gay and lesbians he announced he would start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The world media turned their cameras this way and San Francisco became even more than it had ever been the symbol of tolerance for some, a new Sodom and Gomorra for others. But for same-sex couples from all over the country, the Far West had never been so close: they rushed to San Francisco’s City Hall from all four corners of the US.

Steve and Larry are getting married on July 10th, 2008.

Steve and Larry are getting married on July 10th, 2008.

Steve and Larry were living nearby. They decided to go down to get married. They both were moved by the incredible outpouring of support from everybody who was there. “We were making History. We had to stand for that, remembers Steve. It felt very personal and for the first time it put a new face of what a gay couple looked like and the normality of us showing our love. It was love first and foremost.” Five hours and a half later, they were married. That was the 4th time they officially committed to each other.
A few months later Steve and Larry attended the Glide Memorial Church wedding celebration acknowledging the 4 432 same-sex marriages that took place during those exhilarating times. It was their 5th official ceremony. Unfortunately, the Federal Supreme Court decided otherwise and declared these marriages invalid on the ground that Gavin Newson lacked the authority to issue same-sex marriage licenses. 
Four years later, this past May, the California Supreme Court rendered a decision saying that it is a fundamental Constitutional right to marry and that the gender is not a legitimate basis upon which to deny this legal right. San Francisco started celebrating same-sex marriages again. And Steve and Larry made their 6th official commitment, on Thursday, July 10th 2008, in front of their friends and family. “And this time it’s in every way legal because of the Supreme Court decision, smiles Steve. No one can take that away from us”.

Nothing else but love.

Nothing else but love.

Beyond the political aspect of this long struggle that will go on probably until next November, in my eyes Steve and Larry’s marriage on July 10th is the apotheosis of a unique love story. It is the conclusion of 19 years of patience against discrimination, 19 years of hope to be granted the same rights as other couples, 19 years of pure love that no legal institution will ever be competent to measure or comment upon. And from my point of view it deserves absolutely nothing else than respect.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Ingrid Betancourt is finally free!

July 6, 2008

I  was deeply moved this week when I heard Ingrid Betancourt had finally been liberated by the Colombian army among 14 other persons including 3 Americans. I’ve always had the deepest respect for this woman who fought for her country risking her life for her convictions.  

When she was liberated on Wednesday, July 2nd, she had almost spent 6 years and a half in captivity in the jungle after being kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC, in February 2002. She was then running as a candidate in the Colombian presidential election.  

Ingrid Betancourt is famous in France for several reasons. Born in Colombia she was raised in France and became a citizen through marriage. After her divorce she moved back to Colombia where she started later on a political carrier fighting against corruption in a very “Joan of Arc way”.  She received many death threats and had to send her two children away to protect their lives. When she was kidnapped, a committee for her liberation was organized in France and her portrait was applied on the front of Paris City Hall where it stayed until she brought it down herself on July 4th, just a few days ago. She was also made a Citizen of Honor by the City of Paris.  

Also, in 2001 she wrote a book about her convictions and her hopes for Colombia called ‘La rage au coeur’ later translated under the title ‘Until Death Do US Part: My Struggle to Reclaim Colombia’. The book was published in France as Colombian publishers refused it. It became a best seller and made her famous to the French audience.

Being a journalist and a feminist I already knew about her. She had such a passion for her country and was so convincing that I read her book in just a few days. Yes, she definitely was a modern Joan of Arc. I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to know what this woman is made of: courage, strength, abnegation, sacrifice and endless convictions. In France, some use the words ‘hero’ and ‘icon’ about her.

Now that Ingrid is free and reunited with her children and family I wonder what her destiny will be. My feeling is that the media coverage she received during her captivity made her more famous than she was before being kidnapped. It seems like she was not very appreciated in her country where some people thought she was only trying to advertise herself. She was also considered as a foreigner because of the many years she had lived abroad. Therefore she achieved less than 1% of the votes in the election she ran for in 2002. It is maybe the paradox of this tragic story: it took her kidnapping to make her more appreciated in her own country.

Whatever her next step is, may life be sweet to her from now on.

PS: Her amazing story is already moving forward. The President of Chili just recently recommended her for the Nobel Peace Price. Also Ingrid said to the press she was thinking about writing a play about her experience.

Should you wish to read more about her, there is a Wikipedia page on Ingrid Betancourt: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingrid_Betancourt