Friday, October 17, 2014

Marriage Equality in Arizona, It's Personal

Marriage equality in Arizona: It’s personal  


Sue Green is a former journalist and the broadcast director of Cronkite News Service at Arizona State University. Four years ago, she married her partner of 15 years.  She first moved to Arizona in 1979.


My father used to tell me how he had to wait years for his marriage to be accepted in every state, but he didn’t say it with pity. He said it with pride because he had to fight for it.. You see he got married in 1961, six years before the Loving vs. Virginia ruling was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court making it legal for all interracial couples to get married. Just straight couples of course, but hey, it was a step in the right direction.

My parents – a black man from California and a white woman from Liverpool - had a party that weekend to celebrate their freedom, their freedom to go where they wanted and not be afraid they would be turned away because by simply loving each other, they were breaking laws. When they married, only 24 states recognized their marriage. They even had to battle the military to get “permission” to. They met in England in 1959 and, like many G-I’s and British women, they fell in love and wanted to be together, to make a family. They just wanted to get married. But there was nothing logical about it because in more than half the states back home in the U.S., it was against the law.

After being called in to meetings with some of his superiors who spent hours trying to dissuade him, often questioning my mother’s motives, my father stuck by the side of the woman he loved, and the military eventually gave in, having no choice but to allow them to marry. No derogatory words yelled at both my mother and father during these meetings, or even threats, were going to change their minds. They loved each other and wanted to get married like their other friends.

After my mother and father were called into the offices of my dad’s bosses, and my mother called a whore, and threatened with not being able to get a VISA, and my dad being told he had to make a choice, my dad’s superiors realized this tactic would not work, and my father finally got the go-ahead and was told they could marry, but we could never be stationed at any base in any state where “miscegenation” was against the law. We would not be heading South. Quickly, my father agreed and got on the phone with my mother, telling her to grab her wedding dress which had been hanging in her closet for months. He wanted to get to registrar’s office before the military powers that be would change their minds.


That afternoon, they found a preacher, got my mother’s family together, and stood before the priest, God and a handful of friends and committed themselves to each other, regardless of the law in some states. That commitment was as strong the day my father died as it was the day they tied the knot, knowing they faced an uphill battle. But not letting it scare them off.

 Because of the laws against interracial marriages, we could not get orders to be sent to live in any of the states that did not recognize their marriage like Texas or Arizona, but that didn’t matter. My dad said there were plenty of other places that would accept him, his white wife and bi-racial child. We were eventually sent to California, and I quickly came along, followed 14 months later by my sister, and 14 month’s later by my brother.



 This interracial family with four young children who couldn’t have looked more different sort of stood out on the base. It seemed as if when we came out one after the other we got lighter and our hair got straighter. My brother could easily have passed for white, but not the rest of us. But while some people might have called us names, it didn’t bother us. We lived in a house where we knew our parents really wanted us, and were even willing to break the law to have us. How many people could say that?! We sort of lived in this safety cocoon at least while we lived on that base in California.

Then in 1967 everything changed. The Supreme Court said my parent’s marriage had to be recognized, and we were no longer “bastards” as some had called us. We were legal, everywhere.  At that point in my life, little did I know that fighting for marriage equality was far from over for me, that it was to become somewhat of a tradition for me.


  

You see, some 46 years later I found myself facing the same challenges my parents had faced when I decided to marry the woman of my dreams. My marriage to Robin Phillips was only legal in so many states, and many people told us don’t do it, it’s not worth the trouble, it will never be recognized. Sound familiar? Even Robin, my partner at the time had refused my marriage proposals several times when I asked her to marry me because she said she didn’t want to get married until all states would recognize it.



It wasn’t until I had to have a life threatening surgery that she finally gave in, married me, and wiped my sloppy tears as the minister conducted our ceremony on the beach in Provincetown, Mass., one of the few states that would recognize my marriage.

I didn’t realize how important this was to me until we signed our marriage license application and I realized this was how my parents felt, signing that paper, knowing that not everyone would recognize their marriage, but knowing they would, and that’s all that counted. It didn’t mater if it was just the two of us, or the 300 million people in the country, I just wanted to be married to Robin, and I didn’t care what the courts, lawmakers, voters or anyone else had to say about it. I knew that In Massachusetts I was “legal” and I was going to be legally married somewhere.

I felt my parents by my side even though they were not physically there as the wedding day arrived.  Robin, myself, the minister and two new friends stood there as we said our vows, heartfelt vows that summed up what we felt in the past, what we felt in that moment and what we were sure to feel in the future when the entire world would recognize what our small group of friends and family recognized, that we were now married.


Robin and I are lucky, we came home from our wedding and our neighbors had decorated our house. Before Pete and June knew us, they did not have friends who were gay, but after getting to know us as just “regular” people, they knew how important it was that we come home to Arizona, a state that did not recognize same sex marriage, and let us know they were with us. Heck, let the entire neighborhood know! Two other friends, Mark and Val, asked if they could throw us a wedding party. We have incredibly supportive family and friends, and we are just waiting for the day when they get to celebrate our “fully fledged marriage” with us, and not in just the 30 states where it is recognized.

I can go into the many legal reasons this is so important, but on this day, a day I was afraid I would never see before I passed, I would rather just spend the time thanking my family and friends for their support, the love of my wife Robin who has seen me through some tough times the past few years, the many people who I don’t know but who have fought to give Robin and I these rights, and my mother and father, those 63 years ago who taught me that it doesn’t matter if everyone agrees with you. If your love is strong enough it will be strong enough to survive all the hurtful words, and looks and comments over the years.



 They taught me that it was also my responsibility to the many who might not be as strong, and together as Robin and I have been strong enough to wait together, arm in arm not just with each other but our friends and family for this day, this day when our home state of Arizona is forced to recognize our marriage.

So, I say Thank You to all the people before me who have fought for the basic rights to be married, and those after who will continue to fight for others. Because what I have found is that love is indeed enough to see you through the tough times, and it is an amazing love that hopefully will help those who might not agree with these decisions to remember we are people with hearts and feelings, and if you can’t support us, at least respect the idea that we love each other as much as you might love the person you are with.

I thank the 9th Circuit Court for falling on the side of those who support the idea that all people are created equal, and are willing to stand behind those words. While I wish that the voters of Arizona had had another chance to make this decision, I am happy that the court at least has seen that here in Arizona, Robin and I are like any other married couple. I thank you for helping me to once again have a reason for thanking my mother and father for showing me that no matter how difficult the journey, it is well worth each step of the way because you meet the most amazing and incredible people. Along the journey They might not always agree with everything you say, but they are good people, and they will amaze you at times when they stand up for you, so you remember to stand up for those who need your support.

     

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Family class tops business class anytime



I did a lot of traveling this summer.  Some for work, some personal.  Vacations, family, conventions.

Early in my career, I thought travel was romantic. The people in my newsrooms who got to go on trips were doing cool stuff.

It certainly can be a great perk, but traveling for work is also tiring. And it takes me away from family, friends, routine.  I'm not alone in that feeling.

One of the sweetest things I saw on my trips this summer was a woman who appeared to be a pretty senior exec -- you know how it goes, fashion, nails, hair. All giveaways. All first class.

She wandered down the aisle in her power suit with the rest of us. The only difference was she was holding on to the hand of a 6-year-old boy.  It was June. School was out. She had a meeting somewhere, but she also had a little one who was out of school.

The sweet part came when she got to the row in front of me. She leaned down and quietly asked the man in the middle seat if he'd swap tickets with her so she could sit next to her son.  He said sure, got up, retrieved his bag and exchanged tickets.  That's when he realized she was sending him back up to First Class where her corporate-funded seat was.  She was trading a middle seat back in the cattle car to sit with her boy.  Her young son who was on a very cool field trip with his mom.

What did you do on your summer vacation?  That little guy watched videos and chatted with his mom all the way from Chicago to L.A.  What did she do? She got the job done and had an adorable plus-one for all her adventures.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Beating the heat with a little shadow walking



 When I was a kid, my mom used to announce on some summer days that "It's too hot to eat!"

I get that. But in Arizona in the summer, you have to eat eventually.  It's really too hot to do anything. But you gotta live.

Early this evening, I was antsy. I had to move. I needed a little exercise. Haven't you heard? Sitting is the new cancer?  And besides, my Jawbone UP told me I needed about 2,500 more steps today.

It was 111 degrees out. (It's 9:40 at night now and it's only cooled off to 105.) Yet the sun was casting long shadows, so I went shadow walking.  I had a good walk, nearly 3 miles, moving from shadow to shadow.  It kind of became a game. How long could I keep going without stepping back into the sun?

I enjoyed my shadow walking. It took my mind off the heat. You gotta live.  You gotta move. And now my UP's telling me I gotta go to bed.

Robin, Phoenix


Sunday, May 18, 2014

What color is your parachute? Or what will you make of your parachute?



 For the last three years, six semesters to be precise, I have co-taught a 400-level required journalism course with John Dille, the wise man in the video above.

John and I have made a great team.

We teach a course about the Business & Future of Journalism. John is awesome talking about 'Big B' Business. And I share lots of information about what newsrooms are doing these days to attempt to guarantee that they'll be around in the Future.

John had taught the class on his own for two semesters before I signed on. It didn't take long for us to get in step with each other, using some of what John had taught before and adding new wrinkles to the class syllabus. The topic is a moving target and we are constantly updating our class content. But even so, after six semesters together, we've gotten into a pretty smooth routine.
John and me at graduation 2014.

We were lucky to have each other. 

I was very lucky to teach with such a caring, passionate educator and journalist. And I think the best students leave our class understanding that too.

In the final minutes of the final day of each semester, we offer some last words of advice to our students. I tell tell them not to be afraid to change directions along the way and to remember that they are snowballs - always accumulating knowledge, experience, skills that will serve them well no matter what they do.

John tells them the story caught on video above.

Because Spring 2014 at the Cronkite School of Journalism has been our final semester (we're going to take a little break), I was moved to record the tale that John always shares during these last minutes that we still have the students' attention. It's a winner. Even graduating seniors stop and take note. You should watch it.

Our class from the Spring 2013 semester. They look extra-serious because they are taking a quiz.

Robin Phillips, Phoenix 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Memory: When the head lets go, the heart holds on





My mother-in-law is fading.  She has Alzheimer's.

It's OK.  She's happy.  She remembers her kids, when to go to meals, the walking route around her complex.

She remembers she loves a cup of tea, and R&B, and riding in the car.  And most of all she remembers her husband, the love of her life who's been gone since 1996.

But a few weeks ago, she forgot me.

I hadn't been by to visit for a couple of weeks and when my name was brought up, she was a little fuzzy on just who I am and what I mean to the family.

I picked her up on the next Saturday morning so she could spend some time with me sitting on the porch, reading and drinking a cup of tea. When I first appeared, she cocked her head looking a little unsure and asked "What's happening?!"  She was ready to go for a ride, but not quite sure who she was going with.

The confusion didn't last long. Once we were in the car and heading toward home, Iris relaxed. We made that cuppa and then sat for hours, justing hanging out in each other's presence.

And family told me that she talked a lot that next week about the fun morning with Robin sitting on the porch. That was her Perfect Moment.

My Perfect Moment was when Iris truly did remember me again.

Robin, Phoenix 

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Getting Healthy With My Selfie



Sue Green is co-creator of SkinneePix app and co-owner of Pretty Smart Women.

So this week I began a project, I began to get healthy by using my Selfie. My company created an app for Selfies called SkinneePix that allows you to take your picture and then take 5, 10 or 15 pounds off it if you want to. When I took 15 pounds off I was astounded. Not only was it a small amount of “weight”, but I found  that I felt like I looked better. And I thought to myself, hey,  “I could lose 15 pounds and look like that, not such a big deal.”

Now, I need to lose more than 15 pounds not because someone called me fat or that I feel bad about myself, but because I have reached a point where I want to feel healthier about my body. I need to start treating it better, and the first step is to try and get rid of some of the extra weight I am carrying around.


I have tried just about everything, exercise programs, dieting, bullying, juicing. Nothing ‘s worked because I think I kept concentrating on the large amount of weight I needed to lose. But, what I am finding with the SkinneePix app is that it allows me to think about losing the weight in small, attainable amounts, and it allows me to see my progress, a few pounds at a time. Not concentrating on my body, but on my smiling face.

So, I have begun by taking two pictures of myself with SkinneePix. One picture is at zero pounds taken off and the other is at 15, and I have shared them with friends on Facebook and have them on my phone. No longer am I putting a picture on the fridge taken when I was like 75 lbs. lighter. That just wasn’t motivation for me; it set me up to fail when I messed up and then had to face that picture when I got home.

The SkinneePix app photos help me see that I don’t have to get back to that old weight. I just have to get to a point where I feel healthier. Whether that is 15 lbs, 30, 45, whatever, I will make this journey in 15-pound increments. And when I am having a bad day or bad moment, I will open my phone to that picture and look at my smiling face. There are no packaged meals, or shakes or anything like that. It is “me and my Selfie.” I walk with my phone in one hand with my Selfie pic from my SkinneePix app smiling up at me. Today I walked further than I have walked in a year!

So will this work? I certainly hope so because I want to feel healthier. But I know that how I feel is only up to me. I am not comparing myself to anyone else. I don’t care what society thinks about how I should look. I used to, years ago, but not anymore. Now, I only care about how I feel, and I will decide when to stop or whether to carry on.


What I do know is that I reached this point because of my SkinneePix app, so I will continue to use it and encourage others because I believe it will help, not hurt!

If you want to join me, you can get your own SkinneePix app.  


Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Perfect Gift on My Last Day At Work ... at least for the moment



This might seem a bit strange to be considered a Perfect Moment, especially since it happened on the day I decided to take medical leave from work to take care of my health.

I had been fighting the doctor’s advice for a while, thinking I could “Superwoman” through just about anything. But I eventually found that just because I might want to do something in my head and heart, the body does not always agree.

So, the time came to tell my students, and I have to admit I was able to do it without crying which had been my big challenge. Because they mean so much to me, but also because this would be the first time in 30 years I was not working.

I made it through the first group, and then on my last day had to tell the second group of students. It helped that some of them had already heard!
At the end of the day, I did not realize they planned to have a small going away send-off for me.

I was doing just fine until my boss started talking about how 8 years ago we had joined together to re-launch this Newswatch program at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, and how much I meant to him and the more than 800 students we have taught during our time together. I was OK, until his voice started cracking.

Then it was my turn to speak. I think I was able to get out the words “Thank you” and “Remember to work hard and have confidence in your skills” before all of a sudden I felt the tears start to well up. It was incredibly emotional and all I could do at that point was say, “Just use what I taught you” and then I held up my hand and added, “I’m done.” 


That’s when it started, the students all started hugging me, one by one, some crying, all saying I was the toughest teacher they had ever had, but they were so going to miss me because they knew I cared.

One even stood for a while sobbing on my shoulder. I was there comforting her after spending two semesters seeing her at least two days a week, sometimes more, and really enjoying watching her grow.  Her feelings were so raw, and heartfelt, and then I started crying again with her.

Another student even hugged me and pressed a note into my hand saying please read this letter later. It was a note telling me she appreciated my no-bullshit approach to things, and loved that I challenged everyone to be better. She thanked me for caring about her.

No, I think it goes the other way, I thank all my students for caring about me. They called; they wrote on Facebook; they instant messaged me. Former students I hadn’t heard from in years, reaching out to say “Hang in there, get better and get back to work!”

I was touched at the overwhelming support and love I have felt since making this tough decision to finally put myself first. I am a very blessed woman with amazing students, wonderful, supportive colleagues and a wife who is with me every step of the way. I also have amazing doctors! Just knowing all these people are behind me, supporting me, hoping to see me back walking the halls of Cronkite again and asking “What else ya got?” in our morning news meetings gives me hope, and courage, and the will to also get healthy and get back.

So, my Perfect Moment was in getting the opportunity to really know how much people care for me, and that is a gift I will remember forever.

Sue, Phoenix


OUR FIRST PERFECT MOMENT MONDAY




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