Author Archive for jeanmarie

Striking Down DOMA, what I hope it means

June 26, 2013
By Jean

It is said there are over 1,000 federal benefits for married couples that my wife and I might be able to enjoy now that we are a federally recognized married couple.

I am hoping striking down DOMA means that we can travel more freely in the United States, knowing that if one of us were to become sick or be injured and require hospitalization, we can make decisions about each others care. Nothing is scarier than being at the mercy of people who do not support your relationship who have the power over your healthcare decisions. Now my wife and I will have the ability to make the most loving decisions on behalf of each other’s well being anywhere in the US. We can no longer be denied the ability to say which meds are ok, which treatment plan or surgery or end of life care is appropriate. Making Healthcare decisions is a right afforded every married couple in the United States. Now it will be afforded us as well. We can travel with peace of mind.

We can hold hands anywhere in the US. I am hoping that one day when my wife reaches for my hand anywhere in the country, there will come a time, when I do not have to say to her, “not here, I don’t think it’s safe to hold my hand here.” Because DOMA was struck down, I feel safer knowing the Federal Government has our back. Our love is more recognized, more universal, more welcome, more a part of the human condition.

There are other benefits that I am hoping will follow. These are just a few of them:

— Survivors’ benefits: DOMA barred gay and lesbian couples from many entitlement and welfare programs, including doles tied to Social Security. Same-sex spouses will now be eligible for Social Security survivors’ benefits upon the death of a partner, among other forms of assistance, according to a December 2012 report by the Human Rights Campaign.

— Tax-free employee health insurance: Federal law has lagged behind the almost 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies who offer tax-free employer-provided health benefits to domestic partners. Health coverage for the spouses of gay and lesbian employees will now be available without any taxable strings attached.

— IRS perks: Gay and lesbian couples have historically faced a higher tax burden than traditional couples, according to M.V. Lee Badgett, the Research Director at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA. Same-sex spouses can now claim a host of perks, from estate tax exemptions to head of household deductions. What’s more, same-sex spouses can file tax returns jointly, avoiding additional strain on wallets.

— Emergency leave: Present law does not offer gay and lesbian employees time off from work to tend to a domestic partner or that partner’s family member, according to the Human Rights Campaign. But the guarantees provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act will soon become available to same-sex spouses.

— Green cards and visas: There are an estimated 28,500 binational same-sex couples — meaning one partner is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and one isn’t — but DOMA did not allow the former to petition for the latter to immigrate, according to the Williams Institute. But gays and lesbians may now lobby the federal government for green cards or visas for a non-Amer

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Belonging

I’ve been studying suicide prevention and one of the protections from Suicide is “Belongingness”
Word!!

But the truth of the matter is we have to cultivate even now in our increasingly LGBT open society
a bit of “belongingness.”  And we have to figure out how to make that happen for others.

Provincetown Massachusetts and a few other spots around the country and indeed the world, feel like home in a way
that no place else feels like.  When summer is over and June Prides are done we go back to some isolation.
Gay bars and meetups are scattered around major cities, but we live all over and that is not enough.
Our lives are as hectic as everybody else’s. Getting to a meetup or Gay bar 30-60 minutes away isn’t always feasible.
Many of us do not just identify LGBT, but in the core of our soul we are always LGBT.  We need connection.
We need to unite as LGBT nation to take care of our own issues and more importantly to take care
of the issues of our brothers and sisters.

Among the fastest growing homeless individuals are youth who “come out” and then are thrown out by families.  We forget how hard it is to come
out, if we have successfully navigated the rainbow. But for far too many people, “coming out” still means losing everything, loosing family, tradition, employment, friends, religion and all the things that keep us grounded as individuals.

As the national dialogue leaps ahead of the little enclaves of society, it is important that we help those trying to come out to stay connected
year long.  We may be out in Boston, Ptown, LA, South Beach, Fire Island, NY, Chicago, SF and other places in the U.S., but are we truly out in Everytown, USA? We have many victories in our back pocket, but I have met people who migrate towards New England in search of “Safe Gay” only to find it’s still a secret. It’s not well known or is confined only to unique spots in the city or tourist locations.

LGBT nation needs to be as local as your town’s social clubs like, The American Legion, the French American Club, the Sons of Italy, or the VFW or the church hall. Stonewall was just a beginning. Pride is just a beginning.

There’s a place for us, somewhere, everywhere where we can always belong. We have to figure out how to keep the doors open and the lights on in that space everyday.

“There’s no place like home.”

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Our President is right…Love is Love, by Kelly Ann

Our President is right…Love is Love,

written by Kelly Ann, a sister in law to two of the founders at Ptownwest.com

When I was 19 years old and engaged to be married, my future sister-in-law came out to her parents.  In my youth, my naivety, and ignorance, I did not accept or understand what her being gay meant.  I was young, virginal, and just learning about my own sexuality, and the concept of someone being gay was foreign to me.  For many years after I got married, I still struggled to understand, and in my misunderstanding, people that I love were hurt.

As I began to mature, and have children of my own, I learned that homosexuality, is no different than heterosexuality.  You love who you love.  My children had friends who came out at my kitchen table, they never felt alienated in our home.  I learned acceptance, and that everyone should be free to love the person of their choosing, no matter what gender.  If a child of mine ever came out to me, I would embrace them with love and acceptance, and wish them happiness. 

Now over 25 years later, I have the best in-laws.  My sister-in-law is married to a wonderful woman, whom I love as a sister as well.  They have a beautiful blended family.  My brother-in-law is married to a wonderful man whom I love as another brother.  I am proud to call them my family, and I am even prouder that, they live in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, where their marriages are recognized as legal and binding.  Our president is right….Love is Love

 

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Where is it Safe?

In my travels to hot spots around the country, at LGBT clubs and bars, I am asked by many, where is it safe?  In fact,  I have found a number of people around the country who hit on our website and are trying to find safe and comfortable, free feeling, LGBT locations outside of Provincetown, Massachusetts.  Now, Lesbians and Gay men, and transgendered people who have traveled to comfortable places around the globe, all tell me the same thing, there’s no place that feels quite like Provincetown, Massachusetts.  We’ve got to expand that natural feeling of “no place like home” to other spots around the globe, but not just nightspots, we need whole towns and communities.

Because we live and operate out of Massachusetts,  everyone expects that when they log onto PTOWNWEST.COM they are going to find additional places, where they can kiss goodbye in public, hold hands and feel all around comfortable.  My wife and I, since we got married in 2007 have been kissing goodbye and embracing in public where-ever and whenever we feel safe.  So, I thought this would be a great blog we could all participate in.  Where do you feel safe?  To be really comfortable, it means we have be able to make those connections that are PDA’s – Public Displays of Affection that are warm, like holdings hands or hugging or kissing.  I have felt safe being out “like a straight person” or  a “straight couple” in just a few cities.    Places where my wife and I have managed to pull this off and feel safe and comfortable include: Logan Airport, Boston,MA,  Cambridge MA, Brookline, MA, Provincetown, MA,  Northampton, MA, Broadway  in NYC, Portsmouth, NH and Ogunquit, ME.  Where else are you comfortable?  Let us know so we can share it with others.

We look forward to working with you to claim a more friendly and loving world for all of us.

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Do Your Part, Commit to End Bullying

CDC Study Shows Need for Bullying Prevention

cdc-study-shows-need-for-bullying-prevention

By Paul Guequierre
April 22nd, 2011 at 1:08 pm

The following post is edited from HRC Foundation Welcoming Schools Director, Kim Westheimer:

study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 27% of middle school students and 16% of high school students in Massachusetts have been bullied.  The study shows an association between bullying and poor grades, suicidal ideation, self-injury, and witnessing violence in the home.   This type of survey can inform school officials and policy makers about the general scope of the problem of bullying.  But there are a few missing pieces.

When population based surveys ask students whether bullying is related to their identity – whether it be sexual orientation, gender, race, or country of origin – policy makers and schools can gain valuable information about the interventions needed to educate students and affect attitudes that often fuel harassment.  For example, a survey used by the King County, Washington Department of Public Health asks students if they were harassed in relation to their sexual orientation, race, or gender.   This survey showed that half of high school students were harassed based on race/ethnicity, gender or perceived sexual orientation. This information can help policy makers and educators design laws, policies and curriculum that address inclusion and respect for all people:  policies that enumerate protected categories such as sexual orientation, race, and gender and curriculum that fosters respect for people from diverse races, cultures, and sexual orientations.

Bullying that is reported in middle and high school doesn’t just start in 6thgrade.  We must provide students with tools to avoid and stand up to bullying in early grades to forestall destructive behaviors in middle and high school.  We have enough data and information to know that bias-based bullying has severe consequences. Any school district or state that doesn’t directly address this problem could arguably be considered guilty of neglect.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Welcoming Schools Program  provides LGBT inclusive bullying prevention resources for elementary school educators, administrators and parents.  For more information go to  www.welcomingschools.org.

 

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NH bill introduced that takes safety away from LGBT

Are you kidding me? The whole point of anti-bullying legislation is to keep marginalized and repeatedly taunted people from being hurt or hurting themselves.  Protection is exactly what LGBT students and individuals need.

New Hampshire currently has a strong anti-bullying law that keeps students safe in our schools. However, the New Hampshire legislature has introduced a bill (HB 370) that would strip anti-bullying protections for LGBT students, and that’s just plain wrong.

Please add your voice to our campaign to say NO to hostile school environments for LGBT students, and NO to HB 370!

Senate Education Committee Hearing on HB 370

Tuesday April 19 | 1:00 p.m.
State House, Concord NH

RSVP to Katie at katie.drapcho@hrc.org or (202) 716-1650

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Gov. Patrick Of MA names openly Gay married judge to SJC

Liberty and Justice for all!

I don’t know about you, but I just love it. I just love it.  I just love it!  Barbara A. Lenk, married after the legalization of Gay marriage  in Massachusetts now appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Calling it a “wonderful coincidence” the Governor said she has the credentials and she is a woman who came up from the roots of  hard working, but poor Polish Immigrants. She herself says her “full life”  makes her “someone who brings sympathy and understanding from inside and outside the main stream”   She also said ” As a judge, my only allegiance is to the rule of law and to fair and equal treatment of all who come before the court.’’  Read more in the Boston Globe

Globe Staff / April 5, 2011

By Noah Bierman

If confirmed, Lenk would be the first openly gay member of the Massachusetts high court and just one of a handful of openly gay state supreme court justices in the country, according to gay rights advocates.

 

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NO Defense for DOMA

On a quiet winter day a couple of weeks ago, something amazing happened.  The United States under President Obama and his Justice Department decided not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.  And why you might ask?  Well of course…

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