‘That was the day I withdrew’

Jim-Lovell

With the federal judge striking down the Texas Constitutional Amendment prohibiting gay marriage and civil unions, hopefully this is the beginning of the end of a sorry, hateful chapter in Texas history.

Who did this amendment help? You? Please tell me how. Didn’t your life continue as always? OK, so it helped politicians get money and votes, which was really the purpose of it and which adds to the sleaziness of it. They played the people of Texas like a violin and got more power as a result.

Who did this amendment hurt? Well, ME, for starters, and the hurt went way beyond the rights and protections denied to Bill and me. The day I went to vote against this amendment, my life changed profoundly.

I went to vote early, as I usually do. Normally, for a vote on constitution propositions, I am one of maybe five or 10 people to vote on that particular day. Not this day.

People were lined up out the door and around the corner — to vote against me. To make sure that I could not even have a civil union.

Please try to imagine the feeling, seeing such a line to vote against you, and knowing that many of your “friends” are in that line, people who trust you to teach their children are, nevertheless, in that line to make sure that you cannot have what they take for granted.

Worse yet — the many friends who were silent. I don’t know how they voted, and therefore, I didn’t know who my friends were.

That was the day I withdrew. I started eating lunch alone. I didn’t stay around and chat after meetings. Conversations became superficial. Fortunately, I had the support at home from a loving life partner, and I had an abundance of love and support from the amazing people of my church, Northaven United Methodist in Dallas. They helped me to learn to forgive, to see the people in that line as victims manipulated by greedy power seekers, manipulating them by stirring up fear. But it has been a years-long, unfinished process.

I am doing fine, but I wonder about those who did not have the support I had, especially the young ones. How many of them decided to just end it all? If they were in the same dark place as me, undoubtedly it happened. And listening to the debate still going on, I’m sure it is still happening.

So, I celebrate this judge’s decision. I hope it speeds the day when we can throw this hateful amendment in the trash heap of history, right along with Jim Crow and the Salem witch hunts, etc. etc. etc. (That heap is pretty big, isn’t it?) I hope it speeds the day when we become a society who cares for and values one another rather than beating down and stigmatizing one another.

— Jim Lovell on Facebook

Jim Lovell retired from the Plano ISD, and lives in France with his husband, Bill Stoner. They will be in Dallas this weekend to attend the marriage ceremony of Jack Evans and George Harris.

Related stories:

Texas ban on same-sex marriage ruled unconstitutional

By God, that’s where we’re going to get married

Marriage equality is fixin’ to come to Texas

It’s nice to hear someone say our marriage is valid

 

—  Steve Ramos

Northaven UMC’s members tell First Baptist to chill (and have a happy holiday)

I love when an article starts conversations. The Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas story in the Spirituality section of this week’s Dallas Voice about First Baptist Church’s GrinchAlert.com seems to have done just that.

Last week after I spoke to Eric Folkerth, the pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church, he posted something on his Facebook page about it.

He received dozens of comments.

On GrinchAlert, you can rebuke, reprimand, belittle, berate and spew your general hate for working people, many of them minimum wage, who don’t quite greet you the way you want on their busiest working days of the year. After all, what exemplifies Christmas better than trying to get someone fired.

I called Folkerth for my article because Northaven is a mainstream church and is a beneficiary of Black Tie Dinner.

He obviously has no love for First Baptist’s pastor.

One of my favorite comments on his Facebook page came from Jim Lovell, a member of Northaven who is an elementary school music teacher in Plano. Here’s his comment that is one of the most beautiful descriptions of the holiday season that I’ve seen in a long time.

“All this reminds me how much I love my job,” Lovell wrote. “Today, a 6-year old Muslim boy was so proud to give me a Christmas cookie that his mother (who wears a hijab) bought. His beaming face just made my day! Other Muslim children are sporting Santa hats. Some of the favorite songs of our Christian and Hindu children are about dreydls. Everyone is getting along and having a good time. Happy Holidays, one and all! Whatever it is that you’re mad about, give it up!”

Here were some of the other comments.

“Interesting that they are using the secular Grinch to illustrate their religious celebration,” said one.

Interesting indeed. Not just that the Grinch is a secular character, but that the character was created by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

Geisel began his career as a cartoonist. Before World War II, he warned of discrimination against Japanese-Americans, African-Americans and Jews. I think Dr. Seuss would be horrified at using one of his characters to spew the hatred coming from First Baptist Church.

Other comment’s on the Facebook page of Northaven’s pastor commented on how little the narrow-minded members of First Baptist actually apply the lessons of their religion.

“Don’t they have something more important to spend time and resources on? Cause if they cant think of any, they surely aren’t listening to the world around them,” said one commenter.

But that’s the point of GrinchAlert.com. You need to celebrate Christmas my way.

—  David Taffet