Whoops... I missed this when it was published. In actuality I sent in my part as what I thought would be one of three submissions to be put together in an article that told the story of why Marriage Equality was important. But the ever cautious NYSUT policy apparently pushed it into a response to Ms. McCrank.Pity I did not have an opportunity to really respond to the first part. Would I know where to begin? You betcha! Stay tuned.
Gay rights issues bring out two strong voices
Not all unionists support homosexual agenda
I am writing as a parent and child advocate for freedom of speech, of tolerance toward those who express an opinion other than yours, and the right to express moral opinions without the penalization of "political correctness."
As a parent, I have been following the educational climate in Massachusetts since the 1990s, where indoctrination of homosexuality in elementary schools is normal. Homosexuality is not considered to be deviant sexual behavior.
It is imperative that educators like yourself realize that not every parent, family or educator believes that homosexual behavior is morally acceptable. Many of your community members do not want same-sex marriage and do not support the normalizing of homosexuality in the learning community. It is ignorant of NYSUT to assume that everyone supports gay marriage or believes that this lifestyle is moral.
NYSUT needs to take into consideration all its members, not just the few. It also needs to take into consideration the religious liberty and freedom to express moral virtues, and respect those liberties in the academic setting.
I provoke you to respect the tolerance of those whose religious views differ from your own — respecting the rights of parents of students who do not want the indoctrination of homosexuality being taught from elementary through high school.
I am sure you agree that it is important to respect the rights of all students. If it is important to teach tolerance and diversity, then please respect the rights of all your students and the parents who are raising them.
Persecution has already started against students who do not support the homosexual lifestyle. These students do not have to be active protesters, but are afraid to speak their opinion because of repercussions in the academia field, and being labeled a bigot, gay basher, homophobe, etc. Some of the very issues gay activists are concerned about are now happening to students who do not believe in the political correctness of same-sex relationships.
Consider the recent Miss USA contest. Carrie Prejean's view on gay marriage cost her the crown. The intolerance of Prejean's support for traditional marriage showed true lack of diversity tolerance permeating not only the media, but sadly enough supported by our educational system.
I ask all NYSUT members to consider the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who may be your co-worker, Little League volunteer, PTA member or neighbor, and who do not want indoctrination of homosexuality in schools today. We have a voice and it needs to be heard.
Eve McCrank is a member of the Penfield Paraprofessionals Association.
Marriage equality must be enacted in New York
On the day that Neil Houghton and Kyle Crawford were married in Toronto, the Monroe County Legislature filed an appeal of the decision that gave them equal protection under the contract that grants benefits to spouses. The appeal was denied but, as Houghton said: "It was just one final punch in the stomach along the route to equality for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) employees."
The decision in Martinez v. Monroe County gives all married couples the same access to contractual benefits regardless of the jurisdiction in which they were married. That means lesbian and gay couples who have been married in Massachusetts, Vermont, California, Canada or any other country must be given the same benefits that other married couples already enjoy.
"After 35 years as a member of the Penfield Education Association, holding many offices and working on many contracts, I finally have the same peace of mind that I worked to make sure other families had. No longer do I live in fear that a financial disaster would follow a major medical problem for my uninsured husband," Houghton says. "Repeatedly the district refused to include domestic partner benefits, and this forced their hand."
It's not an end, however; it's a beginning. Benefits are still taxable by New York state, despite the governor's executive order. They are federally taxable thanks to DOMA — the ironically named Defense of Marriage Act.
"It should be called 'discrimination in marriage,'" says Houghton. "How my marriage threatens or affects in any way anyone else's marriage is a mystery to me."
Until DOMA is repealed and marriage equality is enacted in New York and all states, Houghton says, some couples that have made a commitment to each other will continue "being denied more than 1,100 rights and responsibilities granted other couples."
The opposition to marriage that claims morality is on its side, immorally used lies to pass Proposition 8 in California. It said schools would be forced to "teach gay marriage." Despite the California superintendent of schools' public denial, this untruth took hold. Opponents said religious institutions would be forced to marry same-sex couples. No rabbi, minister, priest or any religious leader can be forced to marry anyone, gay or straight.
Neil Houghton, a Penfield Education Association retiree, is co-chair of the LGBT subcommittee of the NYSUT Civil & Human Rights Committee.