Tag Archives: marriage equality

Bridegroom A Love Story, Unequaled

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Mika and I enjoy reading and viewing biographies in print and on film. The latest addition to our library collection is a copy on DVD of the documentary film Bridegroom A Love Story, Unequaled, produced by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. The documentary was inspired by  the video It could happen to you, published on YouTube by Shane Bitney Crone in 2012. The video is a moving account of the loving relationship between Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, the untimely death of Tom Bridegroom in a tragic accident and the unfortunate events that followed. The story of the tragedy that struck these two young men has resonated with people across the world following publication of the YouTube video It could happen to you. The documentary film, Bridegroom A Love Story, Unequaled, while dealing with the disturbing events following Bridegroom’s death, presents a biography of both Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, giving more detailed accounts of their childhoods, formative years, how, as young men, they came to meet and become a couple.

The film is a blend of still photos and video footage of Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, their families, friends and acquaintances taken throughout their lives. If also features interviews with Bitney Crone, members of his family, friends and acquaintances of both men. Thomas Lee Bridegroom’s family has consistently exercised their right to silence and refused any comment on the matter and appear only in still photos and snippets of video taken before their son’s untimely death. The look into their respective childhoods was particularly interesting. Before viewing the film, I surmised that Bridegroom came from a comfortable, middle-class background. He attended the Culver Military Academy, which commands rather hefty school fees and enrolled at Vassar College following his graduation. I learned in viewing the film his parents mounted an extraordinary effort, his mother took a job at Culver to help raise the money to pay the school fees. They saw to it he had the opportunity for a very good education. Shane Bitney Crone attended state schools and left for Los Angeles following his graduation from high school to seek his fortune in the entertainment industry. He had the support of his family in pursuing his dream.

The tone of the film is quite temperate and gets the point across very gently and eloquently that gay people fall in love, become couples and set up households together. It shows just how precarious it is for a gay couple when their relationship is not given the same legal standing of that of a heterosexual couple; thereby making a strong case for marriage equality. It is well worth viewing and though inspired by the personal tragedy that befell Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, it documents, as the title indicates, a love story, unequaled.

Posted by Geoffrey and Mika

“Dignity is not negotiable. Dignity is the honor of the family.” — Vartan Gregorian

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A good friend and hunting buddy of mine, Omer, is an observant Muslim whose family immigrated to Canada from Pakistan. Omer is an educated man as is the rest of his family. He is someone I have known several years and with whom I have enjoyed many in-depth discussions, learning about his faith and the culture in which he grew up before coming to Canada.  He tells me that family honour and shame are taken very seriously by some elements of Pakistani society. The phenomenon of honour killing is a reality for these elements of Pakistani society, particularly in the rural and tribal regions. Family honour is taken so seriously in this culture that if a family member (typically a girl or young woman) brings shame on the family the whole family suffers. They become untouchables; they are deemed unfit to associate with and most certainly are not welcome to marry into other families. The only way family honour can be restored in such a case is in killing the family member who brought the shame onto the family. This understanding of family honour is bound up in religion (Islam) and a culture in which men dominate. He certainly does not approve of this behaviour. He recognizes it as a problem that Pakistani society must address. Continue reading

I believe that the tendency to classify all persons who oppose [this type of relationship] as ‘prejudiced’ is in itself a prejudice,” a psychologist said. “Nothing of any significance is gained by such a marriage. — Loving v. Virginia

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down rulings this week concerning marriage equality in law for same sex couples at the federal and state levels. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages, was declared unconstitutional and the court refused to hear the appeal of Proposition 8 in California, the ballot measure that changed the California Constitution to add a new section 7.5 to Article I, which reads: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Proposition 8 was declared unconstitutional by a lower court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in 2012 and the government of California chose not to defend the law on its appeal to SCOTUS. Consequently, a majority of the Justices refused to hear the appeal on the grounds the appellants did not have the constitutional authority, or legal standing, to defend the law in higher courts after the state refused to appeal its loss at trial. These rulings are the latest in an interesting history of legal battles over the definition of marriage in the United States.
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Once again, there will be a chorus screaming “special rights” when the subject of gay bashing being punished as a hate crime arises. But near as anybody can tell, the opportunity to be threatened, humiliated and to live in fear of being beaten to death is the only “special right” our culture bestows on homosexuals.–Diane Carman

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Is gay bashing a hate crime? Does it merit prosecution and punishment as a hate crime? The murder of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, in 1998 ignited the debate over these questions when it was alleged his assailants Aaron McKinney, and Russell Henderson targeted him because he was gay. In the course of the court proceedings against Aaron McKinney in November 1999, Prosecutor Calvin Rerucha stated:

The two had led Shepard to believe they were gay. Matthew, believing they wanted to discuss the politics and struggle of the gay movement, followed McKinney and Henderson into their truck. After getting in the truck, Henderson said “McKinney pulled out a gun and told Matthew Shepard to give him his wallet.” McKinney said “Guess what. We’re not gay. And you’re gonna get jacked.” When Matthew refused, McKinney hit him with the gun. With Henderson behind the wheel, they drove more than a mile outside Laramie, as Matthew begged for his life, McKinney struck him while Henderson laughed. “He (McKinney) told me to get a rope out of the truck,” Henderson said. According to Henderson, McKinney allegedly tied Shepard’s beaten body to a wooden split-rail post fence, robbed him of his wallet and patent leather shoes, continued to beat him and then left him to die for over 18 hours bleed profusely in near freezing temperatures “with only the constant Wyoming wind as his companion.” (as cited in Matthew Shepard)

His assailants pistol-whipped him so severely he had suffered fractures to the back of his head and in front of his right ear. He experienced severe brainstem damage, which affected his body’s ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature, and other vital functions. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face, and neck. His injuries were too severe for doctors to operate. He never regained consciousness, succumbing to his injuries at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998, at Poudre Valley Hospital, in Fort Collins, Colorado. Continue reading

Benedict eggs me on.

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Pope Benedict XVI announced on February 11, 2013 he is leaving office. The reason he gave for reaching this decision is as follows:

in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of St Peter and proclaim the gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary. Strength which has in the past few months deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity adequately to fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

This came as quite a surprise to me and to many other people across the world. It is commonly understood that once elected pope, the holder stays in office for life. While I am no longer a practicing Roman Catholic, I maintain an interest in the Church, her history, doctrines and current theological discussions. Continue reading

Faith, hope and charity… Yeah, right!

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If the ignorant were truly blessed, I swear this man, Charles L. Worley, Pastor of the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, would be a living saint. He earned his fifteen minutes of infamy in 2012 when in addressing his flock he made the following comment:

I had a way, I’ve figured a way out. A way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn’t get it past the Congress. Build a great big large fence, 150 or 100 miles long, put all the lesbians in there, fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified till they can’t get out. Feed them. And you know what? In a few years they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.

My immediate reaction upon coming across this story was a belly laugh. Is it really possible that someone could be so bloody ignorant? Beyond that, I was torn between feelings of hoping this man does humanity a favour in not reproducing and hoping if he does breed, one or more of his children are lesbian and homosexual. Seriously, I think it better that he not breed or at least that any progeny he has are heterosexual, because the thought of gay children having this man as their father is just too horrifying. Continue reading

What I learned in the school of hard Knox

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Knox, a nondescript town located in the northwest corner of the state in Starke County, Indiana with a population of 3704 souls became the focal point in hard lesson of life for me. Knox is well represented with churches, primarily Protestant denominations including Pentecostal, Baptist and various semi-independent Evangelical sects. While Knox is well outside the Bible Belt, the religious culture is very much like that you will find there. This is particularly so with regard to attitudes toward homosexuality. Generally speaking, it is a religious culture in which homosexuality is neither accepted nor tolerated. You may be wondering how it is that I came to know about and am so interested in Knox, Indiana and its religious culture. The reason, in short, is that Knox is the birthplace of Thomas Lee Bridegroom, a young gay man whose life and untimely death I learned of in a youtube video published by his grieving partner Shane Bitney Crone. It could happen to you is the video Shane published in memory of his partner Thomas Lee Bridegroom. Continue reading