Marriage Is What You Make It.

(broadly) any of the diverse forms of interpersonal union established in various parts of the world to form a familial bond that is recognized legally, religiously, or socially, granting the participating partners mutual conjugal rights and responsibilities and including, for example, opposite-sex marriage, same-sex marriage, plural marriage, and arranged marriage:
Anthropologists say that some type of marriage has been found in every known human society since ancient times.
See Word Story at the current entry.

1. Also called opposite-sex marriage. the form of this institution under which a man and a woman have established their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.
See also traditional marriage (def 2).
2. this institution expanded to include two partners of the same gender, as in same-sex marriage; gay marriage.

the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock:
They have a happy marriage.
Synonyms: matrimony.
Antonyms: single life, bachelorhood, spinsterhood, singleness.

the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities:
to officiate at a marriage.
Synonyms: nuptials, marriage ceremony, wedding.
Antonyms: divorce, annulment.

a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legal sanction:
trial marriage.

any close or intimate association or union:
the marriage of words and music in a hit song.
Synonyms: blend, merger, unity, oneness; alliance, confederation.
Antonyms: separation, division, disunion, schism.

a formal agreement between two companies or enterprises to combine operations, resources, etc., for mutual benefit; merger.

Politically, we’re talking about words as legal terms, and some are trying to ban one demographic from the right to utilize the term in the way they deem best for themselves. However, all words are subject to interpretation.

We didn’t have courthouses in the beginning, nor did we have church buildings. Man built churches and courthouses and even religion itself. Now I know many would be offended by those words, but think about that for a moment. According to the bible and multiple other religious texts, people were directed by a deity to live a certain way. Man created the structure of religion as much as he did churches themselves. The one aspect of religion man did not create was faith. Everything else man created around that faith. And when man decided that those he put in charge were straying from what he believed to be the right way to run things, he branched off into a new variation of religion.

And so it is with every aspect of life. Things are how we interpret them to be. So it is with marriage. Even before recorded history, marriage was a contract. As such, women most often did not have any say in this contract. Often the marriage was of a child to someone that could advance the bride’s family in social, political or financial standing or all of the above. Her feelings on the matter did not factor in. She was nothing more than chattel, and love had nothing to do with it, nor did religion. This idea does not fly in the United States of America, though some would like to go back to that. The laws in this country do not support such a regression, nor does the general population’s mindset. And that cannot be reversed. People will not move backward no matter how hard well paid politicians push.

Each human being lives life and believes in his own perception of life based on his experiences. His perception changes with each experience. For this reason, man, as he evolves with these experiences is capable of changing his mind and his views. With knowledge and experience, views and perception can go in any direction. Unfortunately, some hold so strongly to what their past perceptions led them to believe that they refuse new information. They refuse the natural progression of evolution. And no, evolution is not an evil concept that says we evolved from monkeys. It’s much more than that. It says we change with knowledge and that we adapt to our environment. As time goes on and we continue to overpopulate our environment, nature will do whatever is necessary to adjust to these changes.

Those of us with our eyes wide open can see these changes as they happen. We are open to these changes and accept them and adjust accordingly. To adapt to change is essential to survival and the changes happening right now in politics and in society are reshaping what we are as a society. Those who do not adapt will begin to flounder as they’re left behind. As nature has taught us, they will soon become the minority and eventually will die off.

Opponents of same sex marriage talk of the idea that procreation is impossible in such a union and therefore a factor in the validity of the union. But people marry every day that can’t have children for one reason or another. Are the marriages of people who are too old to procreate to be nullified because they’re “too old”? Are the marriages of people who are infertile to be nullified? Too many people in this country get married for the wrong reason and wind up divorced. A large percentage of those same sex couples that want to marry have been devoted to one another for many years. Not allowing them to marry does not keep them from having sex. It keeps them from being able to take care of one another like other caring couples do. To be married means that they will be each other’s legal representation in the event they can’t speak for themselves. It affects their being able to be present for and sign for treatment for their loved ones in the event of an Emergency. It keeps them from preparing for the event of their death and allowing their loved one to be taken care of after they’re gone. These are legal protections that hetero couples take for granted. Who are we to deny them access to these same protections?

Those most vocal against same sex marriage call themselves Christian, but nearly every single argument against homosexuality they offer as testament to their hatred comes from the old testament, not from the teachings of Christ. Therefore, that hatred does not come from Christianity nor does that opposition. Christ taught love thy neighbor as thyself. He taught caring for the sick and feeding the hungry, not judging whether or not they deserved the help. He taught tolerance and acceptance of our fellow man.

And then we need to consider that while opponents of same sex marriage often support their arguments against homosexuality as that it’s not natural, sex among same sex animals is often seen in many species. There is nothing unnatural about any living creature. Nature creates an abundance of diverse beings and it does so based on the environment. But these very same people turn around and argue that science is a hoax so nature doesn’t really do the things we have documented it doing. I often wonder if they’re ever going to wake up to the reality of what life on earth is. These are human beings who have the same wants, needs and desires in their lives as anyone else. And they’re being denied the right to act as two hetero people do in taking care of one another because they don’t fit into the ‘normal’ range of what someone they don’t even know thinks they should fit into. But here’s the thing, its normal for them.

Marriage is what you make it. Over the years in the western world, marriage has evolved into a legal arrangement, a binding contract between two people who love one another. For many, religion and religious beliefs do not come into play in their relationship. They go strictly to the legal end of the union and the loving aspect of the relationship. They put more credence in the relationship’s emotional connection and the legal aspects of it. They devote themselves to one another and promise to take care of one another. One does not have to be religious to experience such devotion. That’s not to say they can’t make religion a part of their marriage, but it’s not something that is an essential part of the relationship and many relationships survive quite well without it.

People in the United States are supposed to be guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is not our decision to make as to what makes our neighbor happy any more than it is their decision as to what makes us happy. If you don’t want someone else’s ideals of what your life should be forced on you, don’t force yours on others. Let your neighbor make his marriage what he wants it to be and you focus on your own. We’ll all be happier when we can find our own happiness without the interference of strangers.


You don’t know what its like to be us

I was recently talking to a fellow writer and friend of mine about his travels. I was telling him I was envious of his travels and how I’d love to be able to live my life that way but that its more dangerous for a woman to travel alone than for a man. His answer was that it’s not as dangerous as I think. My response was that he doesn’t know what it’s like to be a woman. We must be ever vigilant for our own self-preservation. I think that most men make assumptions and judgements on how they see the world as they are unable to see it from a female perspective. They are often dismissive of the dangers we face because they’ve never faced them. Unfortunately, I think the only way for them to truly see it is for them to see it first hand with someone they care about. And even then, they can’t fully appreciate the impact of these experiences.

Women are constantly exposed to the possibility of being assaulted any time and under any circumstances outside of being locked up in their own homes. And even then, there is the possibility that someone will compromise their protections to get at them. And their clothing is not a factor in that in most circumstances. That’s a misogynistic idea at best. If a man decides he wants a woman despite it being against her will, he will act. Many think they’re entitled and are taught that not only by society but often by religion.

When I was in New York City with a group of people on a college trip, I was sexually assaulted. It wasn’t a brutal assault but it made me feel just as violated. Knowing myself and knowing how I react to things and how I best handle them, I redirected my mind to the protection of someone else.

The assault happened on the subway in broad daylight (or as daylight as the subway can be). It happened on a crowded train. The perpetrator took advantage of the crowded train to press his body against mine from the backs of my knees to my shoulders. When the train stopped and some people got off, he didn’t move. I turned and realized he was taking advantage and I told him firmly, I AM MOVING NOW, as to discourage him from following. I didn’t say anything about his assault as I was surrounded by younger women and I felt that I could take this assault better than they could. Had I moved sooner, he might have turned on one of them. As it happened, He had attempted to assault one of the girls, a 15 or 16 year old girl that was with us, by holding his hand opened in the general vicinity of her genitals in the hopes that a bump or shift would allow him to cop a feel. Once we left the train, I made my way to her father and notified him that he needed to check on his daughter. I remained close by because, knowing how I am, focusing on her well-being allowed me not to crumble to my own emotional panic. As a mother, I focused on the child’s well-being. Her father noticed my hovering and snapped at me, adding insult to injury. He unknowingly shattered my resolve.

Upon leaving the subway, I was shaking in the knees. I went to the nearest wall of the building and watched as the rest of my group ascend the stairs as I tried to hold it together. I wasn’t completely together when the last of us emerged so I followed despite feeling on the edge of panic. I at least had the presence of mind to know that if they left me, I’d be alone and in a panic in the middle of New York City. We were headed to The Guggenheim where I knew I could sit and calm down safely. I had been there before so I was comfortable with it. I knew that we’d be there a while. I told two close friends what happened but that was it for that day. Later that week, I did tell one of the professors what happened. I distanced myself from the father. It destroyed my ability to concentrate, affecting my ability to stay with working on my thesis. I ended up completing my thesis the next semester. While the father did apologize for snapping at me, I doubt he fully realized the impact of what he’d said. And I was not about to clue him in on how truly vulnerable I felt. I was angry at not only the perpetrator, but at him for his lack of insight and at myself for feeling so weak and vulnerable.

While the perpetrator did me no serious harm physically, I emotionally went to pieces. I had a panic attack in the middle of New York City. When men dismiss sexual assault as not harmful, they’re wrong. Until they experience it themselves or witness someone they love experience it, they cannot fully understand its impact. That was not the first sexual assault I’ve experienced. The first was at age 4 and was perpetrated by a family member. I’ve also experienced sex with someone because I felt it was safer to submit and survive than to fight. You don’t know what women face if you are not a woman. And you can never fully appreciate it even when a woman or girl you love is assaulted. So what right do you have to judge us in these matters? None.

Disservice to the Service

We have done a huge disservice to this country’s service men and women. We have not followed through with our promises to take care of their needs in exchange for their sacrifices in service to this country. We have denied them the things that matter most. The most recent victim of the failures of our government is Eddie Ray Routh.

We can set aside the fact that while he was found guilty, the victims AND the accused’s doctors knew he had mental problems. We can set aside that by legal standards, he is not considered insane. What we should be focusing on is the fact that he did have problems that had been recognized by those who knew him. It’s been said that Chris Kyle had called him ‘nuts’. So if Chris Kyle knew this, why was he taking him to a gun range? Why is it acceptable in this society to know someone is mentally unstable but consider it okay to put him in the general vicinity of loaded weapons? Why has it been vehemently defended that the mentally ill should still be allowed access to weapons? And why are soldiers who suffer from PTSD and have been diagnosed as having it still allowed access to weapons?

We live in a world where the loudest defenders of the “right to bear arms” claim to be the ones who “support our troops” yet support the very politicians who while standing behind the NRA and the “right to bear arms”, cut the very programs that help our troops most. Why aren’t we calling out the hypocrisy?

My home state of Georgia is known for its lax gun laws. Especially for its recent guns everywhere law which allows anyone with a license to carry, to carry anywhere regardless. It even allows for carrying in an establishment that posts that they don’t allow guns. It’s just suggested that carriers respect the business owner’s wishes. Only if the business owner requests that you leave their establishment and you refuse do you then violate a Georgia law, that of criminal trespass. Georgia also has no law requiring a background check for a private gun sale. So you can essentially buy any gun from any individual in the state without having them run your history neither medical nor legal. You can also SELL a gun in Georgia to anyone you wish to sell to. Gun enthusiasts throughout the country know this. Kind of makes me wonder how many people come here just to sell guns. (

I address these laws simply because with all the military bases in Georgia and all the soldiers discharged from the military with PTSD issues, they all have spent time here and know about Georgia’s laws. Many of them have already been diagnosed with PTSD. We KNOW what the symptoms are and we know they need help, yet our Congress keeps trying to cut the budget for programs to help these soldiers worse than they already have. They have to fight a whole new battle with paperwork and bureaucratic bullshit to get the help they need. This is help they were promised when they signed up. While denying these soldiers the help they need, they are increasing the Pentagon’s budget. So where’s the money going? Not to the soldiers and their families, and not to our veterans. In September 2013, Northrop Grumman was awarded a $226,702,989 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract in order to build The Global Hawk Block 30 drone, The C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft, upgrades to the M1 Abrams tank, and several other projects that the U. S. Military says it doesn’t need nor want, but Congress insisted on the contract anyway. That’s Congress, not the President. That’s a lot of money to blow on something the military doesn’t want that could be spent on veterans to improve both their medical care and their access to that medical care. ( , )

This is just one example of unnecessary spending that could be put to better use. The excuse they often use is that to not keep the contracts with Northrup Grummen would kill jobs, but wouldn’t opening new veteran’s medical facilities and staffing them also create jobs that are much needed as well? Could that not very much benefit the same communities without creating un-necessary weapons for use in unnecessary wars to make more money for these companies that just keep repeating the same cycle that creates more military veterans who need our help? The very same help they were promised when they signed up? Not to mention getting them the care they need would create a much safer environment for these communities and help these soldiers re-adjust to civilian life.

Instead, the evils that men do avalanche to our own communities and put more people in harm’s way that did not sign up for it.

Freedom of Speech

Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

– This is the first amendment as written by James Madison under the tutelage and encouragement of Thomas Jefferson in 1789. Little did he know that Thomas Jefferson’s suspicion that the bill of rights would become so important and so necessary was dead on the money. – Freedom of speech and press are as deeply important to me as all the other rights combined and perhaps more so. These rights are being trampled lately and by many of the ones that complain the loudest. In light of the press being pursued and prosecuted for reporting what they find that contradicts what many politicians don’t want the American Public to know,( like the actions of the NSA as reported by Edward Snowden as well as what’s being exposed by Wikileaks) my fears of losing these rights has increased. But we must use these rights responsibly.

– The Freedom of speech is the one I want to address at the moment though. We must remember that with that freedom comes responsibility and the fact that it doesn’t also grant you the freedom from the consequences of your speech. There are always consequences. Everything one says or does has an equal and opposite reaction, and there are at least two sides to every story but more likely as many sides as there are witnesses. And there are many perspectives on every event, issue or circumstance. For this reason, I have been making a stronger effort to think before I speak, not only on this blog but also in public.

– Recently I was in a place of business, a souvenir store called Alvin’s Island in Panama City Beach, Florida where my friend was having t-shirts airbrushed for her children. The artist was making conversation with his customers as is their habit and it’s often a good habit. However, one must always take into account who he’s talking to and who else can hear him, considering a business is a public domain that depends on its customers for survival. This particular air-brush artist failed to take this into consideration. He took the care to ask my friends (who likely disagree with me but are polite enough not to insult me over it) “You didn’t vote for Obama, did you?” When they told him no, he proceeded recklessly and without care with “Good because people who voted for him are just too stupid to talk to.” Being the well raised Southern Lady I am, I quietly walked out of the store. Pacing outside I contemplated what to say that would hit home and send the message I wanted to send without compromising my own dignity or stooping to his level. I calmed myself down and awaited my friends and I did come to a conclusion as to how to respond.

– So when my friends left the store, I excused myself and assured them I’d be back. I entered the store and he cheerfully greeted me with “Yes ma’am?” I responded with “I just wanted to let you to know that those of us who are too stupid to talk to at least know to think before we speak in a place of business.” I said it with fire in my eyes that betrayed my barely contained rage. I spoke in a low and clear voice without a crack nor shake and his response was a shocked speechlessness that was quite satisfying as it told me I hit home with the message I intended to send. I sent the message loud and clear that his insult to me and those who think like me will be spread far and wide and that many of you, like me, will never set foot in Alvin’s Island much less spend any money there. That’s not to say Alvin’s Island is responsible for the actions of their employee. Just that his actions turned me off on their store.

– Freedom of speech, you see, comes with responsibility. If you shirk that responsibility, you suffer the consequences of that untethered speech. You receive the responses of others who take offense to your speech. You pay the price. I am quite certain that the artist in Alvin’s Island will never forget me nor that incident because you may forget what people say to you but you never forget what they made you feel. I made him feel shame and chagrin wrought by his own words being thrown back at him from a vastly different perspective. Say what you will, but you might want to consider the possibilities of their consequences, because once said, they cannot be retracted.

– This lesson is going around lately. And it’s going to make its rounds before it’s done in a karmic thoroughness. Not just a response to spoken words but written words and their passage into law. Indiana is currently learning this lesson in that it’s losing business as a result of its passage of its harshly worded religious freedom restoration law. And now, Arkansas has followed suit and will soon follow with the consequences. This country has a history of fighting for equality and against discrimination. Laws like these gut discrimination protections and those of us who support them and fight for them even now are not happy about it. And the best action we can take is to let them suffer the consequences of their actions by taking our business elsewhere.

– And then there’s Georgia, where Josh McKoon is dead set on forcing his pro-discrimination legislation disguised as a religious freedom protection bill through and get it on the books despite the protests by the locals and the warnings from the NFL and other businesses who have withdrawn their business from Indiana already and have warned that they will take their business elsewhere if Georgia passes this bill into law. Indiana’s economy will suffer for their new law as will Arkansas and if it’s passed in Georgia, we will suffer too.

– I am an American through and through. And I will fight for our right to the freedoms guaranteed by the bill of rights regardless of whether I agree with you or not. I understand that freedom of speech is the right to say anything you wish. It does not, however, guarantee protection from the consequences of said speech. And I’m not going to stand in the way of those consequences. You bring that on yourself with your speech choices. So you might want to think before you speak. And you might want to consider the consequences before you pass laws designed to allow the denial of rights to others, because the rights denied may eventually be your own. Because you might consider your business to be an extension of yourself and entitled to your opinion and the freedom to express it, but it’s also public domain and as such can sink or swim based on how the public sees it, and you