The Detriment of the Law

I was tasked with writing an article about the rather disturbing numbers of ‘religious freedom laws’ that have surfaced in the first four months of this year.  My one recurring thought while I prepared for and started to write the article was, “why am I still writing these?”  This is the second time I’ve been asked to write an article about religious freedom laws.  Only this time, these laws have more, nastier teeth and the ramifications are horrific.  In North Carolina and one Alabama city, they specifically target transgender citizens, an already reviled and marginalized group.  I’ve heard the backpedaling and the justifications but it all comes down to legalizing discrimination because someone is different.  Tennessee law now allows mental health professionals to deny service to those of the LGBT community if they feel it will violate their religious beliefs.

Feeling suicidal because you’re having gay thoughts?  Sorry, go see someone else- you go against what I believe.  A transgender woman using a men’s room?  She may very well be carried out of that restroom on a stretcher.  A transgender man using a women’s room?  He’ll be called a pervert and may also be carried out on a stretcher or in handcuffs.

End over end, the justification for these laws is so that a person’s religious beliefs are not trampled upon or violated.  I’m a ‘to each his/her own’ kind of person.  To me, the violation of someone’s religious beliefs is telling them that they’ll be penalized with jail time or fines if they worship in a church/mosque/synagogue or if they go see their priest/imam/rabbi.  If I denied someone service at my job because I suspected or knew that their religious belief conflicted with mine, I’d be in a lot of trouble with my employer- and my own conscience.

When you strip away everything about us- our beliefs, our thoughts, our loves, our personalities- we are humans.  It doesn’t matter what kind of genitals we have, we have the same basic, biological needs.  A transgender man or woman is not interested in gawking at you or groping your children.  They’re interested in using what’s behind door number one- with the door closed and securely locked- washing their hands and getting on their merry way.  If someone is a predator that preys on adults or children, they will get into that bathroom regardless of any laws.  The sick and depraved who prey on others will always find a way so don’t use that as justification for putting innocent people in harm’s way.

On the other laws that are being pushed, that will allow willful discrimination of those who are LGBT- how disappointing.  You want to stand on your religion and say it goes against your beliefs to service those who are LGBT because you’ve been taught that they’re sinners?  Shame on you.  Shame.  On.  You.  Is it not a sin to refuse your fellow man in a time of need?  Granted, that need may be something as simple as a cake to something as meaningful as a wedding ceremony or as vital as obtaining mental health.  The process of coming out and accepting yourself for being something society- and religion- has demonized, takes a brutal toll on the mental state and image of the self.  A mental health professional being allowed to tell a potentially suicidal patient that they need to pound sand because of a religious belief is incomprehensible to me and unconscionable.  But hey, it’s a law and it’s allowed now.

Reading these stories, seeing what’s being passed as perfectly acceptable law, makes me extremely angry.  The fact that more of these laws are being speedily passed since the legalization of gay marriage has not escaped me.  There’s always been a battle, with the religious right on one side and the LGBT community on the other.  The battlefield is littered with laws, both passed, vetoed and revived.  We won a major battle with the legalization of gay marriage, yes, but we are in danger of losing that if the wrong person gets into office.  Our fight is far from over.  Maybe, some day, it will be, when all walks of life are accepted.  But until then, we can’t just sit back and relax because we can legally get married, not when our transgender brothers and sisters are being harassed, harmed and murdered.  We can’t relax when our at-risk youth are being turned out of their homes, turned away from faith-based homeless shelters or taking their own lives because they aren’t receiving the proper treatment.

The biggest weapon against the LGBT community is that the other side is a unified front.  They may come from different religious beliefs but they’ve all got the same goal in mind.  Us?  We’re divided.  Gay men and lesbians have a dividing line; there’s a dividing line between the gay men and lesbians and transgender and so on and on and on.  It’s got to stop.  This isn’t a call for everyone to love each other and sing Kumbaya.  It’s more a call for everyone to put aside their prejudices, get their heads out of their asses and see the bigger picture for what it is.  We all stand to lose with these laws being passed at the state level.  We all live in those states, our livelihoods and our dreams can be destroyed by them.  Yes, many of these laws are being fought and taken to the federal level, with Title IX being used as one of the biggest defenses.  But that takes time and during that time, these laws stand and those of us who are most vulnerable simply don’t have that time.

 

 

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Happy Pride!

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will make an important decision regarding whether or not gays will be free to marry.  I will know by this time tomorrow if when I finally meet Ms. Right, we’ll be able to legally wed like my parents and younger brother.

I was marginalized a lot as a kid, pushed to the outskirts by my peers because I wasn’t cool enough, pretty enough, smart enough.  I couldn’t have what the popular kids had because it just wasn’t allowed in a grade school social order.  It appears the same holds true in my adult life, marginalized because of what’s been called my ‘choice’, my ‘chosen lifestyle’.

Once upon a time, I had a boyfriend.  I had the right to legally marry him and enjoy the benefits of marriage in the eyes of the federal government like tax breaks, insurance breaks, etc.  Then I came out of the closet and the answer is a resounding ‘no’.  For me, it’s not so much a religious thing or a money thing, it’s a human thing.  I should be able enter into a contract based on love, not how much money can be generated from it or what house I choose to worship in on Sundays.

I am a daughter, a sister, a sister-in-law, a loving aunt, a friend, a co-worker, I’m a rescuer of a loving mutt and I am the person two doors down who helped you dig out your car after the last big snowstorm.  I’ve written about your sons and daughters when they played sports in high school and college.  I’ve sold you hot dogs for your family and given you directions around a theme park.  I’ve sold you furniture, booked your dream vacation, made your lattes.  I sit next to you in restaurants, share small talk in the waiting area at the dealership and I hold the door open for you with a polite smile.  You benefit in part from the obscene amount of taxes that come out of my paycheck every two weeks.  Last time I gave myself a paper cut, I verified I still bleed red like everyone else.

All of that is the sum of my parts, what makes me…me.  I’ve read the nasty, hateful things that have been said about me and the gay community.  I’ve seen people’s expressions go from friendly and open to closed and coolly polite upon learning I’m a lesbian.  That one word- lesbian- changes things instantly as soon as it’s uttered.  Nothing about me has changed.  I’m still me, I’m still human.  I am free to love who I want and I should be free to enter into a legally binding contract- which is what marriage basically boils down to- with the person that I love.  At the very least, I should be able to legally authorize any care she made need, carry out her last wishes and she should be able to do the same for me.  Telling me that I can’t have this right simply because it doesn’t align with a religious or world view isn’t good enough.  I need a better reason I’m being marginalized.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and their beliefs but too often those beliefs are used as excuses to discriminate because someone is different.  Discrimination is hurtful and painful.  I lived with it when I was younger because I was chubby, because I was hyper, because I didn’t always say or do the right things.  I would ask why and hope for a change in the social order that never came.  As I got older, I looked forward to college and growing up so I didn’t have to feel marginalized.  I feel like I’m right back where I was.

Except now I’ve got a more powerful voice, a louder voice and the balls to speak up and demand a change.  I won’t let myself be marginalized anymore and I can only hope that the Supreme Court Justices rule for the human and not for the religious or political.

What Comfort Zone?

The morning I found out I got into the Broad Street Run via lottery, my first thought was, “YES!”  My second thought was, “Oh, shit- I have to run 10 miles eight weeks from now.”  I played soccer in high school and into college; I had run an average of three and a half miles a day in my teens but that was it.  I stopped running regularly when I hit 20.  I found a fast food lifestyle, college happened and I just had too much to do to fit in any type of fitness program.

I watched my brother run a half marathon at Disney World in January of 2012 and I vowed that one day, I, too would run through the Magic Kingdom one day.  I started running in February of 2013 after recovering from foot surgery and I could barely make a half mile at a steady clip on a treadmill.  Then, even a 5K was a seemingly unobtainable pipe dream.  Yesterday, May 3, 2015 I ran 10 miles through the city of Philadelphia.

It was easy to stay in the lifestyle I had, blame genetics, blame a bum foot for the weight gain.  It was comfortable to eat or drink what I wanted and not think about the consequences.  Around the same time I finally decided to motivate myself, a friend of mine was talking about running a marathon as well and further planted the seed of running a distance greater than a mile in my brain.  The same friend would push me, asking me why I wasn’t published and when I mentioned self-publishing, she asked me what I was waiting for.

Once upon a time, I had a ‘oh what the hell?’ attitude about everything.  I lost it somewhere along the way when I became complacent and entrenched in my comfort zone.  I found it again when I self-published my first book and started running again.  I haven’t felt this good since I was 20 and I’m on the far side of 30.  It feels good to say, ‘oh what the hell?’, to make decisions without fear even when those decisions are scary as hell.  Like running 10 miles when the most you’ve ever run in one shot is 3.5 miles.

The view of Center City off in the distance was intimidating, knowing full well that City Hall was the halfway mark.  But the nerves melted away with the first mile.  I found my rhythm, my feet hitting pavement in a way familiar to early mornings on the treadmill or the riverfront boardwalk, evenings on the streets at home.  The cheering, the yelling, the signs from the sidewalks encouraged and the music in my headphones kept me moving.  By the time I could make out William Penn’s statue atop City Hall, my left foot was beginning to hurt, the tendinitis in my ankle reminding me it was there.  Just past mile five, my foot was really beginning to hurt, the outer edge of it feeling like someone was using sandpaper on the skin.  Running helped, walking killed it so I ran as much as I could the rest of five and into six where I started walking next to a woman who had done an ultra marathon the day before.

“Honey, you’re doing just fine!  You’ve got just under four miles to go and you can do it!  I’ve been watching you!”  I started running again, my ankle and foot now screaming in tandem.  I hit my wall at mile eight and my tank was on fumes.  Now the other foot had joined in the chorus and I briefly, briefly debated the merits of just lying down on the sidewalk and saying, ‘screw it’.  Then I saw my brother walking toward me and that wasn’t an option.  I kept going and I finished the biggest physical challenge of my life in two hours and forty-five minutes.  I finished on my feet though I nearly went down at the finish line but I made it across the finish line on my own.

Standing at the start line, unable to see Center City and knowing my family was 10 miles away was a scary feeling.  Uploading a Word document to a self-publishing web site and getting ready to click ‘submit’ was terrifying.  I took a deep breath and I stepped away from the complacence, leaving my comfort zone behind.  I now have the medal and vaguely sore foot to prove it.

Character Blog Roll- Getting to Know the Leader of the Guardianship

I have been invited to participate in a character blog roll by Carole Wolf (http://wolffiction.blogspot.com/2014/07/character-blog-roll-get-to-know-adrian.html?zx=b175fd766c477fe5) for my most recent work in progress Fallen, the third in a series about a vampire hunter named Rachel Cross.  She is the leader of an ancient sisterhood of vampire hunters known as the Guardianship.  The Guardians serve the Morrigan and uphold an ancient treaty between the Guardianship and an ancient council of vampires to protect the Innocent.

1). What is the name of your character, and is he/she fictional or a historical person?

Her name is Rachel Cross and she is fictional.

2). When and where is the story set?

Rachel’s world is set in modern day and over the span of three books so far, locations vary from New Jersey, New York City/New York State, New Orleans and 300-ish A.D. Britain.

3). What should we know about him/her?

Rachel is a descendant of Ceallach, the original leader of the Guardianship.  Orphaned at the age of six when a Master vampire murdered her older sister, Rachel was raised by a Guardianship-appointed minder named Alex, a vampire.  In the first book, Ascension, she makes the transition from Guardianship trainee to leader, facing many hard decisions and sacrifices.  In Fallen, Rachel is being hunted by the very sisterhood she fights for.

4). What is the main conflict, and what messes up his/her life?

After a betrayal that costs Rachel the lives of those close to her, she commits murder and goes on the run, knowing she’ll be tried for treason and murder by the Guardianship’s Tribunal.  Delilah Henderson, Rachel’s former mentor, is brought out of retirement to find her before the Tribunal can.  Taken to the brink of insanity, Rachel finds solace and protection in a former Guardian named Erin Barnes.  It’s not long before they’re found by the Guardianship and pulled back into service one final time, to fight an evil that threatens to destroy the Guardianship and everything they hold dear.

5). What is the personal goal of the main character?

Rachel wants to live in peace and forget about the Guardianship but it’s not her fate.  She’s a warrior, through and through, and there will be no rest for her until she finishes the fight.

6). Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title is ‘Fallen’.  It is the third in a series of books that started with the as-yet-published Ascension.  Ascension will be published via Amazon within the next week to two weeks.  The second book, Hunted, I’m hoping to have done for a late fall/early winter 2014 release.

7). When can we expect the book to be published?

I am hoping for a summer/fall 2015 release for Fallen.  It may or may not be the last we see of Rachel Cross.

Thank you to Carole Wolf for tagging me.  You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carole.wolf.3?fref=ts.

Melissa Grace, you’re it!  Be sure to read Tainted Elite, one hell of a thrill ride, by Melissa Grace.

My Writing Process

I’m always looking for something different to get into so I decided to hop into something new.  I was invited to participate in the #MyWritingProcess blog tour by fellow author Barbara Winkes.

Every author answers the same four questions about her or his writing process and then tags someone else to continue the blog tour.

Here’s what I had to say:

 

1)  What am I working on?

I am re-working a completed work called Hunted to get it ready for editing.  It is going to be the second in what may end up being four books about an ancient sisterhood of vampire hunters and their leader.  The first book, Ascension, is awaiting publication which I hope will happen in the next few weeks as I am publishing it myself (I’m working out the cover details).  The story follows Rachel Cross from scared orphan to bad ass vampire hunter to leader of the Guardianship, a sisterhood established by the Celtic goddess of war, the Morrigan.  Along the way, she battles raging Rogues, a rival group of vampire hunters, ruthless vampires and finds first love- with the enemy.

Hunted’s story line is a darker one, where Rachel and the other Guardians are being hunted by Ariana Luciaro, a psychotic vampire with a fondness for torture and pain.  She also has it in her twisted brain to resurrect a powerful Master vampire, her Master, using the blood of Innocents, the hearts of Guardians and Rachel’s soul.  I’m aiming for a late fall release on Hunted.

2)  How does my work differ from others in the same genre?

I spent eight years as a sports writer for two major daily newspapers in New Jersey.  I had to ration my words and make them count while conveying what I was seeing as accurately and vividly as possible.  At the same time, I was going to school for my undergraduate in English and creative writing so the two disciplines kind of balanced/shaped each other.  I like fast, quick story telling because I’ve generally got the attention span of an irate toddler.  Not having to count my words is so freeing but I still tend to use minimal description.

I’m also a fan of bending rules when it comes to storytelling and narrative style.  I don’t believe that all stories are linear in nature or should be told from only one point of view so why should they be written that way?

3)  Why do I write ?

I write for a few different reasons.

A) I’m afraid of the dark (stupid vivid imagination) and a little bit of an adrenaline junkie.  I have been since I was a young kid.  The first ‘horror movie’ I saw was Blackula when I was about six.  I slept with the covers pulled up to my neck for the next 10 years of my life because I was afraid Blackula was going to come out of the attic and bite me.  I like things that scare me for the adrenaline jolt it gives me so why not provide it for someone else?  I can’t be the only one.  Plus, the things my brain conjures up when I’m lying in bed and can’t sleep are too good to pass up.

B) I’m fascinated by darkness vs. light and how people hold up to adversity.  The characters that build in my mind are strong ones and they’ve all got stories to tell.

C) When I was younger, I was the one who always had her nose buried in a book.  I was an outcast without many friends so I lost myself in someone else’s world.  Now, I have the ability to create worlds and stories for others to become lost in.  It’s a way of giving back and providing an escape from life.

D) Back to my formative years, I was told by teachers and peers alike that I would never succeed in writing.  Being a professional writer was a pipe dream and it would never happen.  I don’t like hearing ‘no’ or ‘you can’t’ or ‘it’ll never happen’.  I abhor it.  I’m the stubborn type that will do my best to prove you wrong.  So far, it’s been a whole lot of fun saying, ‘yes, I can do this and yes, I WILL do this.’

4) How does my writing process work?

Scenes and characters pop into my head.  Sometimes it’s a dream, sometimes it’s something I see in every day life that sparks something else.  It’s hard to describe or pinpoint but eventually, after I’ve worked it over and over in my head, it gets typed up.  From there, I work it through, see what the natural progression would be and just go with it.  I let the characters dictate the story and how it should go.

Authors I’m tagging:

Barbara Winkes: http://barbarawinkes.blogspot.ca/2014/06/my-writing-process.html

Melissa Grace: http://inthebardroom.wordpress.com

Termination Order for Adams, Carly

ATTENTION ALL AVAILABLE GUARDIANS IN NEW YORK METROPOLITAN AREA

Carly Adams- HIGH PRIORITY TERMINATION

Full Name: Adams, Carly

Aliases: Marks, Cathy; Edwards, Samantha; Lynn, Jenny


Gender:
Female

Age: 19


Birthday/year:
July 1, 1995


Hair:
Black, worn to shoulders

Eyes: Brown

Origin: Unknown


Height:
5’5”


Weight:
125

Distinguishing characteristics: None

 

Education: Unknown


Parents:
Unknown

 

Siblings: Unknown

 

Associations: Murphy, Patrick (Father); Wilson, Donna; Williams, Bettsy

 

Last Known Location: Unknown

 

Status: Active

 

Personal: Ex-girlfriend of Wilson, Donna; expert in explosives, considered extremely dangerous.  Terminate on sight.

 

Termination Order for Williams, Bettsy

ATTENTION ALL AVAILABLE GUARDIANS IN NEW YORK METROPOLITAN AREA

Bettsy Williams- HIGH PRIORITY TERMINATION

Full Name: Williams, Bettsy

Aliases: McDermott, Cynthia; Nelson, Tanya; Tull, Chenell


Gender:
Female

Age: 22


Birthday/year:
February 28, 1992


Hair:
Dark blonde, worn past shoulders

Eyes: Blue

Origin: Unknown


Height:
5’9”


Weight:
160

Distinguishing characteristics: Piercings and Tattoos- None.  Scar, left forearm, six inches.

 

Education: Unknown


Parents:
Unknown

 

Siblings: Unknown

 

Associations: Murphy, Patrick (Father); Wilson, Donna; Lundin, Nicholas; Adams, Carly

 

Last Known Location: Jersey City, New Jersey

 

Status: Active

 

Personal: Second in command to Donna Wilson, considered extremely dangerous.  Terminate on sight.