QUOTE: ANDREW SULLIVAN -“The premise of the marriage waiver – and of all immigration law in the US – is that tearing families or married couples apart should be avoided at all costs. But bi-national gay married couples now have to face exactly that choice between spouse and country that the US has always avoided. Why? Because our marriages are null and void for the federal government under DOMA. Because our very being is regarded as sub-human.”
Melanie Nathan reporting from D.C.
Yesterday in the UAFA hearings we had prepared for a nasty Senator Sessions (R-AL); the very scary post Arlen Specter Republican ranking GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. As Sessions take his place in the Sonia Sotomayor nomination hearings, I am sure his mind will jar back to the time when he too sat in the hot-seat, albeit for a lower Bench. He was admonished by Senator Ted Kennedy at that time, for being a throwback to racist America when he made negative remarks about the NAACP. (See Rachel Maddow’s exposure in the video clip below.) As luck would have it Mr. Sessions, who has also seen fit to compare homosexuals to pedophiles, had no choice but to take his seat next to Senator Leahy for the Uniting American Families Act Hearing this week, as ranking member of the GOP in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sitting at his fore, facing him with a dignity that served as an omnipresent blow to the abilityof Mr. Session’s to hear testimony without prior judgment , was Mr. Julian Bond of the NAACP, who made it clear that from the NAACP standpoint UAFA embraced civil rights and was absolutely essential in providing the Lesbian and Gay community with equality under immigration law, whether incorporated into comprehensive immigration reform or whether it had to stand alone. I can only imagine what was going through Jeff Session’s mind at that moment. Here he was surrounded by queers, blacks, liberals, Hispanics, immigrants, democrats – a fate worse than hell; his discomfort evident by his inability to acknowledge or thank anyone except Ms. Vaughan, whose testimony was so lame that Senator Leahy had to end her rambling. Notable anti immigration of any kind, because according to Vaughan and the Numbers guy Beck, there will be too many footprints… good argument for denying equality to all Americans don’t you think?
So imagine when young Jorienne Tan- Mercado showed up at Senator Session’s office with his big question (see yesterday’s post) and when me the little liberal lesbian Jew from Marin County showed up to thank him for his work on the Judiciary committee that day, and then there were more of us in that group that almost blew the collective butts of the staffers from their chairs when we walked in, en′masse, led by a twelve year old Filipino kid. We rocked the office and their world. It will never be as he knew it. The kids were so well behaved as were all the guests – polite and thankful notwithstanding the Senator’s snub earlier that morning.
What felt especially good was not my introductory comment to Sessions’ Deputy Chief Counsel Mr. Bradley F. Hayes- pardon my cliché- when I announced “we are here to change hearts and minds.,..” but the proud stance of our queer visibility in a way that showcased our peacefulness and goodness in a manner that belied their perception that we are mere numbers with too many footprints, sitting behind a hearing microphone to be ignored and insulted. And so just maybe soon those ambitious staffers may ask themselves how much longer than can stay on the side of wrong and if they moved just a little to the left they too could be right…if you get my drift!
So Mr. Sessions, I suggest that when you judge and grill Judge Sotomayor in the next weeks, remember your own words that you engraved into your historic record those words that will come back to haunt you over and over again, which, unlike Judge Sotomayor’s have no justifiable context.
Senator Ted Kennedy: “Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a shameful era that we thought was in the past. Inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude could be a Judge or even a US attorney. ” He is now tha ranking member of the committee that rejected him and we were one of his first victims!
Quoting my earlier BLOG : “After the hearing and a light lunch we all went, by invitation to Senator Leahy’s office for a photo op- official Senate photographer and a chat. He was charming, friendly and took us into his office to see pictures of his grandchildren. After signing a batman movie poster for each of the boys, and our very grateful group decided to take time to lobby. We decided we would go to as many Senators as possible to thank those who supported or co-sponsored UAFA and to question those who did not.” Melanie Nathan
Then the most remarkable occurrence, Jorienne asked to if he could go to Senator Session’s office because he had a question he needed to ask. So we all trudged off to the very Senator who mere ours before had begrudged our existence or so it felt. He was not in the office and so his chief immigration Counsel came and took us into the conference room to talk. Jorienne blurted out his question: “ Please ask the Senator what my mom can do to stay with us if he does not think we should have UAFA.” Wow, 12 years old and he hit the spot – the Senator had ignored his family and he was demanding recognition. As it turned out it was actually a productive discussion with the Staffer and we gained much by the experience. Did anyone ever say kids were our best teachers?