writing to know, knowing thru being, being for writing... this is me, writing about the one thing i know, which is myself... and even that is sometimes a mystery...

Monday, January 30, 2006

miami university v. tom brinkman

here's one for the textbooks.

so i went to the brinkman forum tonight. i wasn't going to at first, because these things have the tendency to make me inconsolably sad, as i realize just how filled with hate, injustice, prejudice and intolerance the world really is.

the thing that makes it hard for me is having to come to terms with recognizing these instances of deep-seated hatred, intolerance so integral and inseparable from a person's beliefs and nature that spill over into my personal life and impede my ability to live as an autonomous person, something so contradictory to the sacred ideals of our nation, yet corrupted and bastardized and twisted to the point of illusion and erupting disgust.

inflammatorily, brinkman declared miami's practice of domestic partner benefits "degrading and detrimental to american ideals and traditions," suggesting that somehow, the allowance or recognition of same-sex relationships or even just the broadly termed "nontraditional families" is something so staunchly offensive and irrational as to cause dramatic social problems, a disorder and inadequacy in need of correction and immediate address by government and thus, this lawsuit.

as i sat there in the front row of the meeting room, surrounded by commiserators, two rows of smug college republicans to my right, and the leering face of brinkman and his lawyer ahead of me, i slipped into a semiconscious existential daze. i could see the faces of people i loved in the corners of my eyes, juxtaposed over the faces of angry and reactionary members of the charged audience tonight. and finally, when an old stranger in the crowd took the microphone to relay a "statement" on behalf of "nontraditional families," my eyes welled over with sincere tears of grief in acknowledgement of the families brinkman was ignoring and denying, a loud roar of fear and sadness from the depths of silence and frustrated suppression from which they were borne.

i imagined every instance of prejudice, oppression and inexplicable hatred i had ever encountered or experienced in my life, all the things people have used to stack against me in the hope of stifling me, and imagined all of that at once, and imagined being told that what i am, who i am, what i do, who i'm with, what i stand for, what i stand against, that all these me's i could be and desire to be and am, were just not good enough, couldn't be accepted, shouldn't have a voice and a place in which to live and breathe and love...

and all at once the realization that love, of all things, could be deprived and refused and denied by law, that the right to my life and my body and my emotions could be stolen from me and then justified by law and democracy and the public interest, all that barreled down on me and sank me into this darkness and sadness with which i write this regretful post.

but these words, which i reproduce below in the hopes that they will move others as they did me, inspired me to look up, through my overwhelming and overbearing sadness, long enough to look brinkman in the eyes, and holding that gaze, channel all my energies into making him realize, if only for a fleeting second or two, the deep hurt he was causing, not only me, but all the ones i've loved and met in my lifetime.


Mr. Brinkman, I am here tonight because you must be publicly confronted with the reality that your lawsuit hurts good and loving people.

Every day, every hour, it tyrannizes loving relationships. And as I’m sure you are very well aware, the effect goes far beyond the gay staff and faculty at Miami. Be it 10, 50, or 500 miles away, any times a gay couple hears of this, your bully's cudgel inflicts more heartache and anger.

I want to look you in the eye and tell you of the same-sex couples among my dearest friends. If you would dare intimate they are one iota less moral than whoever you're trying to "protect" from their love, I would ask you to desist from subjects of which you know nothing.

When my 16-year-old daughter asked what I was doing tonight, and I told her you seek to deny partner benefits to same-sex couples here, she replied with what I would call the fresh incredulity of youth. "Why would he care?" she asked. "Why would he want families not to be safe?"

You of course have your reasons, based on your interpretation of the Ohio Marriage Amendment. Whatever the legal debate, which your own attorney has said could last for years, your bottom line is exclusion of families whose ways fall outside your comfort zone, exclusion of families whose aspirations clash with the sense of entitlement that religion and society have instilled in you.

Reputable research overwhelmingly asserts that variations in sexual orientation are healthy in a human population. And that same-sex couples raise children as effectively as heterosexual pairs.

Eventually, these truths will transcend the fog of fear and ignorance that presently helps empower you. Like the Catholic Church doctrine on gays that I believe helps guide you, your quest is gravely immoral in its denial of human dignity and diversity. Though I cannot judge your level of malice vs. sincere good intention, I know that history will deem your effort as misguided and cruel.

I am here tonight in an effort to hasten that day for all of us, especially those good families you so profoundly disrespect.

John C. Brennan
Cincinnati, Ohio

mr. brennan, modest and humble post aside, i would like you to know: you are my hero and a voice for all of us in these strange and troubling times, and i would like to thank you. your words, doubtless, have inspired (and will inspire) more than just me.

in your debt,
stephanie lee


  • At 7:28 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger radar said…

    I hate to correct you, but Rep. Brinkman never said that it was due to the erosion of the "traditional family" that he brought the lawsuit - it is because Miami is in violation of the Ohio constitution. In actuality an ammendment of the constitution approved by 62% of Ohio voters.

    I observed no hate in the room last night.

  • At 8:43 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger The ZenFo Pro said…

    Good post, chica :)Gave ya a link on the ZenFo Pro.

    - J.

  • At 9:00 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Ogbuefi Stephi said…

    yes, i'm quite aware of the amendment. yes i know 62% of ohio voters approved it. he only said it like 62 times last night!

    but no matter how many times he tried to remind us (and himself, it seemed) of the fact, i still don't believe that his motives stop there. i am pretty sure mr. brinkman isn't motivated solely by his desire to uphold the constitution (otherwise he would not be so actively undermining our NATION's constitutional upholding of Roe v. Wade).

    i would venture to say that mr. brinkman is so misguided as to allow his party interests and personal morals get in the way of his duty to the state and its people. i would venture even further to say that he's using this case to propel himself further up the party hierarchy and to advance his political standing.

    o, but maybe i've surmised too much, as any person this interested in political advancement or public favor would obviously not be taking the measures he's taking, and would not have disrespected his superior party members in such an unglorious, distasteful, not to mention PUBLIC fashion.

    and i'm sure mr. brinkman's remarks about the nature of nontraditional relationships and families, were nothing but kind and good-hearted gestures of peace and understanding. that's why he seeks to dissolve their very existence and acknowledgement at this university.

    mm hmm. riiight.

  • At 9:02 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Ogbuefi Stephi said…

    o, hey, j!
    sorry i missed you, i must have been mid-heated-response to the ill-informed visitor above...

  • At 9:40 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger The ZenFo Pro said…

    Maybe I'll join ya here in heated conversation, considering I just got IM bombed for posting on the same subject...

    You know, you could throw in the fact that Brinkman is the same guy who voted against
    Ohio's ratification of the 14th Amendmentin 2003

    Anything I can do to help, hon :)

  • At 10:12 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Ogbuefi Stephi said…

    thanks, j.
    i would have thrown that out there, too, but didn't want to slap that guy around with too much at once.
    better to take it easy and steady, you know?


  • At 8:26 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger The ZenFo Pro said…

    Lol. I just had I'm sure a well-meaning MU student start to throw the "I know where you work" thing out.

    No prob. Lol. Emotional appeals to one's humanity are always important.

    Actually, I need to ask for your help on the real world. Give me a ring when you get a chance :)

    Radar: Lord, at least you're a civil Conservative. Read your blog; at least you pointed out that Brinkman's language blunders were probably the equivilent of Archie Bunker defending civil liberties at an NAACP meeting.

  • At 5:21 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Ogbuefi Stephi said…

    j: haha, "in the real world"... yea, sure, whenever i get the time, i'll give you a ring. or you could call me, i might have time tonight after 9. try it.

    radar: yea, i gotta give it up to you, you do make a fine argument, far better (supported) than mr. brinkman could muster. so props, man.

    been fun! -o.stephi

  • At 4:44 PM, February 02, 2006, Blogger Ray "Raedien" Devine said…

    Steph, that was an amazing post.

    I feel uneducated on the subject however, and refuse to enter this debate as is.

  • At 4:48 PM, February 02, 2006, Blogger Ogbuefi Stephi said…

    well thanks, ray.
    hey, blogging can be hard. you just gotta keep with it.
    luck! -o.stephi


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