The Reluctant Activist

This next post is on a topic that makes me slightly hysterical, which is why I have hesitated to write about it. Massequality is the coalition group that is working to keep same sex marriage legal in Massachusetts. Getting involved with Massequality has meant doing a lot of things that I am not really comfortable with. I am a very shy person, and I stood outside the polling places during the Presidential election and asked people to sign petitions in support of us. And they didn’t send me to a friendly poll place in gay JP either. I have also been asked to talk to friends, families and co-workers about this issue. I have called, emailed and discussed this with just about everyone. (My current employer excluded. People don’t really “talk” here). I worry that my friends are getting a little tired of hearing from me about this issue.

But I want to direct everyone’s attention the blog, Pieces of Gray. This story breaks my heart. It involves love gone wrong, a child, late breaking conversions to Christianity, and the courts.

Cheryl Barlow and Keri Jones who lived in Utah, traveled to Vermont to enter into a civil union and traveled back to live in Utah. Please note that the rights and responsibilities of civil unions do not “travel” outside of Vermont. They had a little girl together. Cheryl Barlow was the bio mom. The relationship later ended, and Barlow converted to Christianity and renounced homosexuality. She refused joint custody with Jones. Keri Jones then embarked on an incredibly expensive and emotional journey through the Utah courts to try and gain visitation rights. In the end, the Utah courts declared her a legal stranger, and she has no contact with her daughter.

I do not know this family, but to say that I feel for Keri Jones doesn’t cover it. I ache for her. I can’t imagine anything worse than losing your child. And I have seen this very situation before. Life is difficult. People let each other down. But because of bigotry, gay families do not have the same access to the courts that straight families have.

So I continue to harass my friends, and my legislators. Because I want the abuse to stop. Because we are citizens, and we deserve the same rights as everyone else. Because I can imagine a different life for gay families.

BTW – I had asked a friend of mine who is a member of the clergy to call her state reps. I was a little embarrassed, and said, I hope I am not being annoying. And she said, “If you want to change things, you are going to have to be annoying.” So buck up baby! She didn’t say that last part, I added it in, but she was right.

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6 thoughts on “The Reluctant Activist

  1. I have chills.

    That poor woman.

    Good for you, I’m proud of you. I think that married homes are the best kind of homes no matter how many ovaries are there.

  2. you should never worry about your friends getting tired of hearing about it, that’s why their your friends and the people that don’t care or don’t want to know are the one’s that need to be tied to a chair and lectured.
    the fact that you can put yourself into uncomfortable situations makes me want to shout and cheer for you.
    there are too many keri jones’ for all of us not to stand up and make noise.

    congrats on your well deserved award nomination.
    super congrats on cancelled work trip (i got a little teary eyed for you when i read it was cancelled!) i hope your technics for conflict resolution include banging heads together.

  3. This is really heartbreaking. There has to be some sense and compassion sometime, doesn’t there. I mean, people have to come to their senses eventually, don’t they? It is just so obvious that the playing field needs leveling and the easiest way to wipe the shame of all this injustice is to legalize our marriage rights.

    You keep talking about it. I will too. It’s freaking obscene, that’s what it is.

  4. Well there you go…….gay divorce is just as messy as hetero divorce. When I was getting divorced I had to take a class. They make all people with children take this class. It’s really stupid because if you are one of the idiots messing up your kids, you never recognize yourself in the video. The rest of us? Well, it just wasted our time and $500. There was a woman who had been separated from her husband for 8 months and every night at dinner, she set a place for him. It was upsetting her daughter. She said she felt like a doormat. I stood up and it took all my strength not to yell……it was the last stupid story and it shattered my last frayed nerve. I told her that she needed to suck it up and think about the example she was setting for her child.
    Anyway, divorce is nasty and people who pull that crap do not love their children more than they love themselves. That’s all there is to it. The woman in your story doesn ‘t love her child more than she loves herself.
    As far as your politicing, you’re right, you need to be forceful.

  5. “The woman in your story doesn ‘t love her child more than she loves herself.”
    -Maggie

    It takes a lot of strength and courage to take a stand for what you believe in.

    Unless we ourselves are Cheryl and Keri, we cannot possibly imagine what has transpired between them. We can take sides and throw stones. If the above statement about Cheryl is to be considered the truth, then so it is for Keri as well.

    In the end, this is the fault of our society.

  6. Didi,

    I completely disagree with your interpretation of this situation. I do not think Barlow showed strength of character by forming a relationship with another woman, agreeing to have a child together, watching that child form a relationship with Keri, and then removing her completely from Keri’s life. In Utah, Keri is a legal stranger to her daughter. Barlow knew this, and knew that she would have no legal recourse to address the removal of her daughter from her life.

    In every relationship that falls apart, both people contribute to its disintegration. If you read Keri’s blog, you will see that she admits as much. But in this aspect of their relationship, I don’t see their actions on the same moral plane at all. Keri was fighting to have a relationship with her daughter. She was fighting just to be able to contact her, and talk to her. Barlow is hiding behind society’s homophobia. Their actions are not at all the same, and cannot be judged the same way.

    I am not sure what you mean by saying society is at fault. If you mean that its society’s fault that homophobia prevents gay marriage, and gay people do not have the same access to the courts, then I agree. However, I am not really sure what you mean.

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