RIP, Edie Windsor. You are my Hero

*video courtesy of You Tube and Huff Post Live

Last week, the world lost an awe-inspiring hero for supporters of LGBTQ civil rights. Tiny, tough, lusty and outrageously fierce, Edie Windsor was the main plaintiff in the case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court, United States v. Windsor.

You see, Edie and her same-sex partner Thea were together as a couple for 40 years. After an absurdly long and loving engagement In 2007, they loudly and proudly said, I do,” in Toronto, a place where gay marriage was both safe and legal. Thea died two years later, in 2009, leaving her entire estate to her spouse, Edie, in the form of a revocable trust. But you see DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), and the people who built this hateful excuse of a law specifically defined ‘marriage’ as deliberately excluding same-sex couples. They couldn’t see ‘us.’  They went so far as to say that the term ‘spouse’ only refers to that of a ‘man and a woman.’

Edie filed taxes after the death of her lifelong love, and justly claimed the federal estate tax that allows exemptions for surviving spouses. The IRS not only barred the exemption, they forced her to pay $363,053 in taxes. Quiet and demure never described Edie. She boldly set off on the battle of a lifetime. All of us in the LGBTQ community, we were with her every step of the way. After forking over all of Thea’s loot to the government, she filed a federal lawsuit for a full refund of the nearly $400k, stating DOMA was unconstitutional, unfair and singled out legally married, same-sex couples.

Windsor fought to overturn DOMA where non-sensical legal language stripped equality from life as she and many others of us knew it. Oral arguments were heard in March of 2013.  On June 26th of that same year, ‘the Supremes’ sang out in favor of love. This court, in a 5-4 decision (thank you, Justice Kennedy! Please never, ever retire), affirmed that DOMA was unconstitutional “as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

In my household, as in gazillions of same-sex households across the US, it was the feeling of sheer, unfettered joy. Phones rang, hearts throbbed, hugs, kisses, and high-fives could be heard in most major metropolitan areas where we believed we would be safer far and wide, and we were all alive with the promise of equality happening right before our very eyes.

Book the hall, call the caterer, hot-damn, we were going to be legal. In this lifetime. In our lifetime.

Once, when my Big, she was about two, maybe three years old and she asked us to see our wedding pictures. We told her we weren’t married. She asked why, and we looked at each other and said, the law, it doesn’t allow us to marry. She started to cry. We told her that despite the law, love wins.

Edie will be remembered as a powerful trailblazer in the long history of the gay rights movement. A queen in the Yiddish fight club! I am forever grateful for her, and all the others before her who went out on a limb and stood up for what is right. The positive outcome of her battle against the establishment has led to many happy and loving nuptials with similar ridiculously long engagements. (Ours was a mere 17 years… and we married legally in 2013)

Edie, you will be missed. Thank you for giving me and my mishpocheh (family) the gift of equality and acceptance in a time where we are tested, challenged, and opposed daily. Your giant heart gave out on you at 88, but we can still feel your pulse of hope. You will live on in our hearts each and every day. We carry your torch proudly and hope to keep moving our case for equality, justice, and authenticity forward.

My deepest sympathies to your surviving wife and family that are left behind. You left a tacca (big) set of shoes to fill, and you have proven that love does win.

To make promises and to love don’t cost any money. Tsuzogn un lib hobn kostn kayn gelt nisht.

My Mrs., Big, Little, I love you! Ich hob dier lieb!

     

      

      

      

 

Waking Up is Hard, With You

I don’t know about you, but this US-based Yiddishah momma isn’t sleeping so hot. The chaos of the world, the tweeter-in-chief, the backward direction of history, and the fears of a horrid times repeating all leave me with angst, anxiety and some pretty hefty carry-on baggage under the eyes these days. Nightmares, daymares, heart palpitations… oy vey iz mir.

a parody on Neil Sedaka’s lyrics, “Breaking up is Hard to Do”

we stupid huge win win
we stupid huge win win
Drumpf schlumpy trump dump trump
Drumpf schlumpy trump dump trump
Waking up is hard, with you
Don’t take my rights away from me
You’re breaking laws and changing history
Jamming justice, we know it’s true
Waking up is hard, with you
Looking back, phone alerts were much less scary
With just one tweet, you spooked the military
It’s Mueller time, the grand review
Waking up is hard, with you
They say that waking up is hard, with you
Now I know
I know we’re all screwed
Imploding health care and refugee bans
Are all of your decisions based on the teeny-tiny size of your hands?
I beg of you, stop the racist crap
Vlad, just share with us the wire tap
Global warming, it’s making me blue
Waking up is hard, with you
They say that waking up is hard, with you
Now I know
I know we are screwed
‘Murica should not be run by a business man
Are all of your decisions based on the teeny-tiny size of your hands?
we stupid huge win win
we stupid huge win win
Drumpf schlumpy trump dump trump
Drumpf schlumpy trump dump trump
Waking up is hard, with you
I don’t understand what is happening in our world. Ikh ton nit farshteyn voz iz gesheenish in aundzer velt.
Okay, if you would like to hear the real version of this ‘borscht belt’ singer and writer, click below, courtesy of our friends at YouTube:

      

     

      

Won by One each time

June. Summer. Kids running free and the smell of chlorine. PRIDE month is happening all over the globe. Nu? Many of you must be just a bissel ( a little bit) interested in the gay agenda? Come, sit. Let me tell you a story about a yearning to fight inequality in the form of a rainbow.

Way back in June of 1970 (that is effing 47 years ago people), the very first Pride Parade took place in New York City (my Little, she calls it, ‘You Nork’) to honor the Stonewall Riots of 1969. This event clearly marked the beginning of the long, hard struggle known as the  LGBTQ civil rights movement in the US. One single pride parade has bravely morphed and grown into festivals, parties, galas (this group, we know a little something about throwing parties!) and month-long celebrations all over the US and around the world. Why you ask? There is something so very freeing in leaving the cloak of invisibility behind. To celebrate lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, and queer culture, family, and, well PRIDE! You see my friends, this is one group that knows how important it is to rejoice in everyone’s unique and special differences. Insert glitter here!

In 1997, a short couple of decades ago, Ellen DeGeneres made television history by having her character, come out as a lesbian on TV. In pure Ellen-comedic-fashion, she accidentally announced over the loudspeaker at the airport to her love interest, played by (straight) Laura Dern, “I’m gay.” Nobody had ever done this before on TV. Hate mail, death threats and at least one bomb threat would happen before the show titled, “The Puppy Episode,” aired. This title had a hidden meaning — everyone knows a puppy gets bigger. And everyone on this show knew this was an issue that would also grow. “The Puppy Episode” ranked #35 in the top watched television episodes of all time and won an Emmy. What followed was quite the ruckus in tv land. Major advertisers bowed out, and the show was canceled shortly thereafter. Her career was in turmoil for several long years. But our Ellen, she persevered. Her brave and historic outing, of both her character and herself, eventually made it a lot more ‘okay’ for the sweet, funny girl next store to also be gay. Ellen, you are my hero!

Meanwhile, mitten drinnen (in the middle) of all of this gay history and lots of tsuris (trouble)  and violence, a long time ago (in 1963), two nice Yiddisheh young women met (Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer) and fell in love. After a long and beautiful 40+ year engagement, loving each other in sickness (Thea bravely battled MS) and in health, Edie and Thea went to Canada to tie the knot in 2007. It was legal there. In 2008, living in New York (You Nork) and in their 70’s, they fought to be legally recognized as a married couple and won. They spent their last two years together as a happily married couple. Sadly, in 2009, Thea died, leaving her entire estate to Edie, as spouses often do…  Edie rightfully claimed the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses, and the IRS said, NOPE. You see, under Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the word ‘spouse’ is defined as a union between a man and a woman. Opposite-sex partners only need apply. Same-sex married couples were excluded from the 1500+ laws and benefits that straight married couples get automatically. Edie had no choice but to fork over more than $360,000.00 in estate taxes. By 2010, Edie, no stranger to fighting injustice, sued the federal government under DOMA for a full refund. Her case rose to the highest court in the land, and in 2013, the 9 Supremes heard The United States v. Windsor. On June 26, 2013, in a landmark 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of Edie, saying that DOMA was unconstitutional. Edie, petite, near deaf and a feisty 70-something, brought respect, dignity, and protection under the law to the LGBTQ community. Edie, you too are my hero!

Picking up right where Edie left off, another major case made its way to the nine robed judges. Enter Obergefell v. Hodges, representing 4 same-sex couples. Not asking for a special new law or even special protection under the law, they challenged the 14th Amendment and simply asked to have the equal right to enter knowingly in the fundamental right to marry, just like any other straight couple in love. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court passed Marriage Equality for all in the US. In a 5-4 victory, equality won.  Same-sex marriage was now legal in all of these United States. We danced and sang and kissed and declared a jubilant victory over this newfound constitutional right. President Obama said, live from the Rose Garden, “Today, we can say, in no uncertain terms, that our union is a little more perfect.” He went on to say that this, “affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts: When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.” HEROES, all of them!

In 2016, Ellen DeGeneres made the news again, earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Yes, my man POTUS 44, Barack Obama, recognized how Ellen has made extraordinary contributions to the betterment of our culture. He said, about Ellen,  “A single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place.”

One year ago, the very worst (by the numbers of those killed) of all too, too many mass shootings in the US, occurred in Orlando, Florida, at the Pulse Nightclub, a known gay bar. A cowardly, disturbed man walked in and shot dead 49 people in a place they felt safe and happy — and yes, it was during PRIDE month. This was deemed a hate crime because it happened in Florida. But, know that in many states across the US, this would not be the case. Many states have no laws to protect the LGBTQ community. In Pennsylvania, where I live with my Mrs., and our kinder (children), one can still legally be fired for being LGBTQ. No joke…

Okay, glitter works here too! ❤

So PRIDE month is significant. It is important for much more than the extreme news footage of drag queens, roller-skating trannies, nearly naked men, and bare-chested lesbians. It is important that we, all of the LGBTQ community and our straight friends, family, and allies continue to fight the inequality that remains today. We pay homage to all those that fought the very hard battles before us and paved the way for the new freedoms and ease we now experience. And we continue to speak to the discrimination and hate that is very much a part of today’s world.

Please notice, every victory was a squeaker, 5-4 decisions. mr t, he ran his campaign saying he would be good to the LGBTQ community. Some believed him — not this lefty-liberal-lesbian. He appointed Pence as his Veep, a known supporter of gay conversion therapy — the old, ‘pray the gay away.’ He appointed ultra-conservative Gorsuch to the bench to replace the vacancy left by Scalia. Gorsuch has some deeply disturbing rulings against the trans community and will very likely be a strong adversary of LGBTQ rights, as was Scalia. The tweeter in chief himself has made 5 proclamations so far for the month of June. Breaking presidential tradition, not one includes June as Pride month. Not one word, not one tweet, not one mention of my community. mr t is one small-minded man.

In all of these cases, we have won by one. We all need to come together for the sake of LOVE because it is really that plain and simple.

      

     

     

   

 

Show me a Sign?

I woke up today, a good thing. So did you, because you are reading. Nu? Already, two good things. I looked at the news on my phone… Palm Sunday Church bombings in Egypt. Dozens killed. US Aircraft carrier heading over to get closer to North Korea. A deadly truck attack in Sweden. Sweden??

I took Gatsby on a walk on a nice sunny morning and I said, “G, we need to see some sign of hope.” On the way home, look what I saw.

Yes, this sums it up pretty nicely

The highest form of wisdom is kindness. di hekhstn far fun khkhmh iz guthartsikayt.

May we all wise up and have hope.

      

 

Quote

Do you see us?

Do you see us? We are a family, just like yours.

It’s a slippery slope my friends and we are headed down the rabbit hole fast. The latest for me, my Mrs. and our shanah maideleh kinder (sweet beautiful girls) is our invisibility in the upcoming Census. It’s been announced that there will not be an LGBTQ count in the 2020 census. To be fair, that’s the way I roll, it’s important that you know that we have never been counted before. But after the stunning momentum from the Obama administration, the proclamation to love out loud with all the legal rights and freedoms from the Supremes, government agencies, lefty liberals, and this Yiddisheh lesbian, we were hopeful that following the next Census, our government would see us. And after they see us, they would work to find ways so that we wouldn’t always be under some threat, be it physical, emotional or legal. They would see us and allocate the resources that are so important to our LGBTQ community. They would see us and help.

Congressional Democrats (much too many for mr t to count on his tiny little hands), along with several government agencies (Health and Human Services, the Justice Department and Housing and Urban Development) have all requested that mr t’s administration counts the LGBTQ population in the next Census (2020). Figuring, ‘Hey, wouldn’t be a swell idea to better understand sexual orientation, marital status, family status, gender identity and the location, size and socioeconomic status of this population?  We are out ringing doorbells counting anyway?’ 

mr t and his slimy swamp mates, they say there’s no need for collecting data on us. A crowd of people, and not one real person among them. A groyse oylem, un nito ein mentsch. Their anti-gay agenda is clear as day, and I feel it as real as those hot flashes, vey iz mir (OMG). Gorsuch, poised for confirmation via the cowardly nuclear option, is an extreme threat to our civil rights for the next 4 to 5 decades. Well, you know what f*ck that? WE ARE HERE. You cannot erase us.

You may say, Lisala, what’s the big mitziah (problem)? I can’t speak for everyone, but you know how loud I speak for my mishpocha (family). Coming out, ‘being out,’ makes you leave the cloak of invisibility behind.

If you are straight, you don’t know from this tsuris (trouble). Your are counted. You count. You matter.

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