Lest the battle lines and magnitude be not clearly drawn

lpfamily[Image at right: the Langbehn-Pond family, from Janice Langbehn’s Twitter page. Lisa at left, Janice at right.]

I had a Banned Books Week / LGBT families in children’s lit post all queued up and ready for its final powdering, but have to set it aside after reading on Tuesday evening that the Langbehn v. Jackson Memorial Hospital case was dismissed yesterday by its Florida judge.

Janice Langbehn, for those who can’t place where you heard her name (if not from here, in February and August of last year), is the woman whose partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, suffered an aneurism just as they were about to embark on an R Family vacation cruise with their three children. They were in Miami. The hospital barred all of Lisa’s family from seeing her, because, in the words of the hospital social worker, they were in “an anti-gay state.” (Family? What family?)  Janice tells the whole story here, on the blog she started for their family.

The more you read about their life together — the 25 children they fostered over the years, the four they adopted, Lisa’s Girl Scout troop — and the more you read about the lengths Janice went to to try to gain access to Lisa for herself and their children — the more vivid and the more unthinkable their inhumane treatment becomes.  Lambda Legal argued her case against the hospital; their page on the case is here.  Janice posted the judge’s motion to dismiss the case here. I — and any other LD readers as ignorant in the minutia of the law as I — welcome anyone’s armchair analysis / translation of its import.  Lambda and the family have until October 16 to take the next step, whatever that may be.

Two more things:

(1) Look at Lambda Legal’s Tools for Protecting Your Health Care Wishes, but with this caveat: Janice and Lisa had medical power of attorney for one another, and Janice had them faxed to the hospital in one of her many attempts to do everything possible to have their family status recognized by the hospital staff.  It was the bigotry and inhumanity of the hospital staff that kept them apart, when other family members, including small children, were welcomed to visit other patients in same critical care area there. (Nolo Press explains more about Powers of Attorney for Health Care here.) And,

(2) the Langbehn-Pond family lives in Washington state. Right now people in Washington are fighting tooth and nail to preserve their strong domestic partnership law. Referendum 71 needs to pass for it to stay on the books, and for all Washington families to be treated fairly, especially in times of crisis, and  for all families to be provided the same protections under the law. So if you haven’t done what you can to support their battle there, please do. For the Langbehn-Pond family, if for no one else.

A visual to leave you with: NGLTF keeps and regularly updates a map of all the states with laws on the books that, in one way or another, throw barriers between us and safe, proper, ethical, full legal recognition.  And sometimes throw barriers between us and our very own families. A sobering note: only the clear white states have no prohibitions on same-sex partnerships.

Click on the image to see it at its full-page resolution:


Welcome to Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week started on Saturday, and this year I’m celebrating it properly!  Every day this week I’m going to post something supporting the theme as it relates to books for and about our kids. “Our” here meaning LGBT families, immediate and extended, as well as our allies.

Today I’m reposting a list of LGBT-themed books that have been challenged or banned recently, compiled by the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Kids’ Right to Read Project.

Tomorrow, I’ll convey my home-spun taxonomy of  literature for young children which features or includes LGBT family diversity. By “literature for young children,” by the way, I mean titles intended for use in preschool and Kindergarten through third grade, for the most part, and to a lesser degree for older elementary grades.  Books for middle schoolers and high schoolers (the “young adult” or YA titles) cover similar themes way differently, and also cover whole additional themes of self-discovery. Most pointedly, they often take on bias and bigotry directly — something that younger kids may well not yet have experienced, or comprehended if they have. Many parents are careful about when and how they introduce these notions to their kids — us included.

For the rest of the week (Tuesday through Friday) I’ll highlight some of my favorite books written for and about kids with LGBT parents, including books highlighting gender diversity, something many of us consider important, whether or not any of us is T.

I sincerely hope you folks will chime in with your — or your kids’ — own favorite titles. I’ll also provide Powell’s links to all the titles I can, to speed your getting them in your home, if your public library doesn’t have the book, or you’ve checked it out and want to have it for keeps in your family library.

Herewith, LGBT Book Bans and Challenges, excerpted from the NCAC Kids’ Right to Read Project:

Read moreWelcome to Banned Books Week!

Weekend bonus shot, 09.26.09


Giggly sister (floppy brother), Berkeley, CA.

Photo above Taken by ye olde Special Uncle (note shoe at 3 o’clock) during a delightful chance encounter with him and ye olde Special Aunt outside one of our town’s most venerable coffee emporiums. Emporia. Whatever.

We’re outside the flagship Peet’s, opened by Alfred Peet over 40 years ago.  He was rightly known as the “grandfather of specialty coffee,” being the first in these parts to dark-roast small batches of fine, hand-selected beans.  Caffeination in Berkeley (and eventually, the nation — three of his protégés went on to found Starbuck’s) would never be the same.

Peet’s will always be second to Cafe Med, though, where Ginsberg wrote “Howl,” where a scene from The Graduate was shot and, perhaps most notably, where European espresso coffee was first introduced to not just to the East Bay but pert’ near the West Coast. By genuine, Italian and Italian-trained baristas working the largest espresso machine in North America.

In the late 1950s the Italian barista chaps bought the place from its original owner (a woman who’d begun this café after starting its sister café in San Francisco — Il Piccolo — which was to become the still-legendary Café Trieste).  They began to moderate the strong-tasting espresso with added steamed milk to suit the American palate.  After Lino Meiorin (one of the genuine Italian chaps) kept saying, “more latte” he finally just invented a drink to keep on the menu. Thus was born the latte.  Hey, I read it online in more than two places, so it’s gotta be true.

No lattes for the kiddles this afternoon, though. Instead, a fresh organical smoothie from the collective around the corner. Thanks to the fiver lent by the Auntie & Uncle. Ah, small town livin’.

National Day of Action for Marriage Equality: Sunday for Maine*

* Now with fundraising thermometer, below.

If you’ve been watching the news, you know that Maine needs our help.

The same campaign of fear-mongering and misinformation that helped remove marriage equality in California is being waged in Maine. All the way down to the exact same ads promoting the exact same lies (see the Box Turtle Bulletin posts: Maine “Yes On 1” Ad Recycles California Ads, Casts Activist As “Teacher,” and That “Maine Teacher” Is No Stranger to Anti-Gay Lies). Bedfellows of the misinformation-mongerers? Holocaust deniers (check out the second BTB piece “No Stranger”). There’s a little something to ruminate on during these holy days ‘twixt Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

In another parallel to the 2008 California battle, the fear-mongering and misinformation is working. The more passionate, motivated contingent is the anti-marriage one, and the most recent polling by DailyKos shows that, were the election to be held today, we’d lose another state’s extant marriage equality. (Advocate coverage of Kos poll here.)

This Sunday is being organized as a National Day of Action to support Maine’s battle to retain its marriage equality. All we need is a two-hour chunk on Sunday, time to participate in one of the training conference calls, phone, and a computer screen (I presume, wired to the internet).

Sign up here to help PROTECT MAINE EQUALITY this Sunday.

Goal ThermometerAddendum: if you’re far from Maine, time on the phone is probably the most valuable thing you can give. But if you can’t give that, or if you can and you want to give more, then please throw something into the coffers for No on 1 / Protect Maine Equality. To help them keep countering the steady stream of misinformation, to help turn back the tide of hate and bigotry once and for all.

Here are all the organizations using ActBlue pages to fundraise for No on 1/ Protect Maine Equality. You can also contribute directly to No on 1. Or if you want to donate via this site (and thereby inspire other LD readers to join you in your commitment), click the contribute image below. LD readers were tremendously supportive in the battle against Prop 8 in California, and  I would be very grateful and proud if we pulled in some healthy fraction of that in the battle on the other side of the country. Over $16,000 was raised here on behalf of California marriage equality. Let’s start with $1,000, OK?

For Maine, for Maine’s kids, raised in LGBT families or no. And for No on 1 / Preserve Maine Equality.  Because, bless ’em, the Maine marriage equality battle began including visibility of LGBT families (see the selected video over there on the sidebar). This is something the California battle never did do (feature the actual kids who stood to lose with the loss of their family’s legal/financial protections).  I join many others who believe this to be one of the No on 8 campaign’s chief, most unforgivable fatal flaws. It didn’t keep me from trying to defeat the proposition. And obviously it didn’t keep me from trying to use this space to fundraise for it. While I am phenomenally grateful for the generosity of the hundreds of LD readers who joined in that fundraising, I would be very wary of soliciting financial support for a campaign that closeted us again.  Which is why I’m hauling my sorry bruised butt up on the horse again and stumping for No on 1 / Protect Maine Equality.

Ultimately, no matter where it’s being waged or how, this is very much a “protect the kids” battle.  All our kids. So please help, in whatever way you can.