With this ring, I thee reciprocal beneficiary

Marriage. Wedding. Spouse. With some exceptions in language and culture, these terms are nearly universal. In the United States these terms are central to more than one thousand rights afforded to a wedded couple and they convey one single act and meaning.

Domestic Partnership. Civil Union. Commitment Ceremony. Now the rest of the country is scratching their heads. Currently, the Defense of Marriage Act prevents consistent understanding of these words due to the federal government’s lack of same-sex marriage recognition. This leaves a state-by-state jigsaw puzzle of rights, acknowledgment and, in many cases, nothing.

For example:

As of June 1, 2011, Illinois defines a domestic partnership as a legal union and has adopted laws similar to those of California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. While the Phoenix Domestic Partner Registry merely grants hospital visitation rights to the named partner, exclusively in the city of Phoenix. This seems to be a blatant double standard intended to water down the importance and effectiveness of the term and the understanding of the voting public.

Civil Unions vs. Domestic Partnerships

Wait, it gets better.

Washington State issues business card-sized replicas of the actual domestic partnership license. As they should, I am sure there are many occasions where carrying proof of your legally recognized relationship could come in handy. And in the State of Hawaii a civil union is formally called a Reciprocal Beneficiary Relationship. Really? Would any of this be necessary if same-sex relationships were truly considered equal?

So, once you’ve found a cozy spot on the map to settle down with your committed significant other/life partner/unlawfully wedded, you’ve filed for your local applicable certificate entitling you to somerights and thrown a ceremony celebrating your love and your union, then you realize you’re not protected anywhere else in the world … unless you happen to be in Rhode Island, New York, Maryland.

Community Church of Hope, Phoenix

Thanks, Frank.

By now you’ve heard about Frank Ocean’s letter that revealed his first love was a man (hopefully you’ve heard his music too). Here is the now famous letter he posted on his Tumblr account for the world to read. Too small? Read it here.

Last week Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert released a single off their new album, The Heist, which is due out October 9. The single, Same Love, is a tribute to marriage equality and part of the Music For Marriage Equality campaign.

If you haven’t heard it yet, listen here!

“This song, which I wrote in April, is a response to what I have observed and experienced, and is also an act of personal accountability. It was not easy to write, and I struggled with how I, as a straight male, could genuinely speak upon this issue. Initially, I tried writing from the perspective of a gay, bullied kid, but after getting some feedback, I felt it wasn’t my story to tell. What I do know, and where I wrote from, is my own perspective growing up in a culture where “that’s gay” was commonplace, with a huge stigma on those who identified and were perceived as gay.” – Macklemore

Arizona Storytellers

Arizona Storytellers is a project I am currently dedicating all my writing and multimedia efforts to (my apologies to all my loyal readers).

This project commemorates Arizona’s upcoming centennial anniversary. Here is one of many stories of Arizonans captured by this project. I thank you for your support and encourage you to have a look:

Arizona Storytellers – Phoenix gay dads adopt, raise 12 happy kids

Organizations, resources and information you should know about.

Marriage Equality:


Immigration Equality:


Get Equal:


ServiceMembers Legal Defense Network:


Human Rights Campaign:


Army Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer (discharged under DADT) speaks at an SLDN event. Courtesy Photo.

Marriage equality mean immigration equality and family equality. Courtesy Photo.

Army Lt. Dan Choi and comedian/activist Kathy Griffin headline a Human Rights Campaign event. Courtesy photo.

It was a late fall afternoon in 2008. One facebook post turned into a dozen, each of these leading to a dozen more text messages. “Meet at the corner of Central and Camelback,” it said, “bring signs.” Under the orchestration of dedicated community members, voters opposed to Arizona’s Proposition 102 hit the streets to spread awareness before the November 4th election day.

Unfortunately, Arizona voters passed Prop. 102 by more than 250,000 votes. These photos capture the unity, love and ambition behind the proposition’s opposition. The fight continues …

As victory celebrations and pride festivities close out a historical weekend in New York, families throughout the rest of the country are reflecting on what this means for their situations. Here are one family’s thoughts:



From my standpoint as a gay veteran, it seems as though the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy will never reallygo away. The truth is that to most American’s the policy was confusing enough, and since the December repeal of the 17-year-old policy, many homosexual service members are still uncertain of where they stand and what rights they gained as a result. Personally, I’ve been pulling for this repeal for more than a decade; however, this hugely positive step in the direction of full equality has opened the door to many more questions and complicated many scenarios.

President Barack obama signs in favor of repealing the 17-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in December.

Ultimately, the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA is to blame. This was a measure enacted by congress and it alone bans the federal government (for service members this means their employer) from recognizing same-sex marriages. The same federal government that is now allowing homosexuals to serve openly. The same federal government that extends honor, benefits and gratitude to the families of these service members. Should a service member pursue a same-sex marriage at the state level, he or she would legitimately be caught in a catch 22.

By not legalizing same-sex marriage on a federal level, there are no requirements for marital or spousal acknowledgements beyond the rights (if any) granted within each state. If you are on active duty and marry your partner (of the same gender) in a state that recognizes it as a marriage, to the federal government you are still not married. So, even though you are allowed to serve your country as an openly “out” homosexual you are still denied the right to be equally committed, to receive equal benefits and to be recognized and honored as any other military family, all due to this nation’s gross marriage inequality, not to mention religious hangups.

According to an active-duty Air Force Technical Sergeant (who asked to remain anonymous), despite various homosexual tolerance briefings, staying closeted is preferred in these early stages of DADT’s repeal. Although this sergeant is married in a state that issues legal and equal same-sex marriage licenses, neither the current state of duty assignment nor the home of record state recognize this marriage as ANYTHING.

“I don’t trust telling leadership that I am married to a woman,” the sergeant said. “But, them knowing I am married won’t get a her a dependent ID card and there might be some prejudice towards me disguised as something else.” This comes from a sergeant who is within one year of retirement from a career of service to this nation. “I’ve been living this double life for so long and I guess I would just rather play it safe,” she said.

The repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was, without a doubt, a victory for equality, human rights and ultimately for the nation – as gays and lesbians have successfully and patriotically served (closeted) in the armed forces for decades upon decades. This country’s inconsistencies as to who can legally marry and where it will be recognized are insufficient and demonstrate the need for changes on the federal level. As the repeal of this policy marches on and as states like New York continue to make strides toward actual marriage equality, a reexamination of this entire puzzle rather than just one piece is becoming more necessary.