Sloppy statistics: Do 50% of Americans really think married women should be legally obligated to change their names?

Jill Filipovic wrote an opinion column for The Guardian yesterday, arguing against the practice of women taking their husbands' names when they get married. It ended up linked on Jezebel and found its way to my Facebook feed where one particular statistic caught my eye. Filipovic claimed that 50% of Americans think a women should be legally required to take her husband's name.

First, some quick clarification of my biases here. Although I write under a hyphenate, I never have legally changed my name. I've never had a desire to do so. In my private life, I'm just Maggie Koerth and always will be. That said, I personally take issue with the implication at the center of Filipovic's article — that women shouldn't change their names and that to do so makes you a bad feminist. For me, this is one of those personal decisions where I'm like, whatever. Make your own choice. Just because I don't get it doesn't mean you're wrong.

But just like I take objection to being all judgey about personal choices, I also take objection to legally mandating personal choices, and I was kind of blown away by the idea that 50% of my fellow Americans think my last name should be illegal.

So I looked into that statistic. And then I got really annoyed. Read the rest

Alone together in Antarctica

Last week, "Inspiration Mars" announced its search for a male and female couple to do a Mars flyby mission, requiring the pair to spend 501 days alone together. Sailors/adventurers Deborah Shapiro and Rolf Bjelke have some experience doing just that, at least terrestrially. More than twenty years ago, Shapiro and Bielke had 9 months of alone time on the Antarctic Peninsula. By choice. Shapiro wrote about their experience in a book called Time On Ice. Over at BBC News, Shapiro answers the question: "Why didn't you two kill each other?"

One has to be able to give the other person mental elbow room. During our winter, when a person settled into the sofa in the salon with a book and started reading, he or she was not interrupted.

Keeping quiet when the person is close enough to practically read one's thoughts, is a matter of self-discipline, fuelled by caring.

The only exception to our silence rule was for boat-related safety issues. The boat, for obvious reasons of survival, always came first.

"How to get along for 500 days alone together" Read the rest

Last wish of married lesbian soldier dying of breast cancer: "Let DOMA die before I do"

Charlie Morgan, a 47-year-old career soldier in the late stages of metastatic breast cancer, says she hopes to live long enough to see the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) overturned, so that her wife will receive the benefits that a widow in a hetero couple would receive. “I’m praying that they take it up soon,” Morgan told the Washington Post in a phone interview from her home in New Durham, NH “It’s my motivation for staying alive. I really need to be alive when they actually do overturn DOMA, otherwise Karen is not guaranteed anything.” Read the rest here. Read the rest

Seed artists support marriage equality

I've written here before about seed art at the Minnesota State Fair. Every year, Minnesotans glue thousands of tiny seeds to heavy backing material to create some surprisingly elaborate examples of portraiture and political commentary. Oddly, given that this is folk art at a state fair in the Midwest, most of that political commentary is solidly liberal.

I wasn't able to make it to the Minnesota State Fair this year, but Minnesota Public Radio's Nikki Tundel was there. At least four different entries in this year's seed art competition feature marriage equality themes—responses to the coming election when Minnesotans will decide whether or not to enshrine discriminatory marriage laws into our state constitution. It's safe to say: Minnesota's seed artists want you to vote "No".

You can see all the marriage equality seed art at the MPR News Tumblr blog

Via the Stuff About Minneapolis blog, and Andrew Balfour

Read the rest

Fifth grader barred from giving speech on marriage equality by Queens, NY principal, later reversed by Schools Chancellor

Kameron Slade is a Queens, New York fifth grader who won his class speaking competition planned to participate in the school-wide contest with a speech about same-sex marriage. The principal of PS 195 prohibited him from giving the speech, which generated predictable (and completely justified) kerfuffle. Now Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has overriden the principal, and young master Slade will give his speech after all.

Some people are for same-gender marriage, while others are against it. Like President Obama, I believe that all people should have the right to marry whoever they want. Marriage is about love, support, and commitment. So who are we to judge? If we judge people like this, this is a form of prejudice. We must learn to accept all differences.[...]

My mom is very open to me about same-gender marriage. However, some adults may feel uncomfortable and think it’s inappropriate to talk about this to children. I think adults must realize that as children get older, they become aware of these mature issues that are going on in the world. If children read or watch the news, they can learn about things like same-gender marriage, so what’s the point in trying to hide it?

In conclusion, I hope that everyone understands how important it is to respect everyone for who they are. Same-gender marriage is becoming more popular. I believe that same-gender marriage should be accepted worldwide and that parents and teachers should start to discuss these issues without shame to their children.

Fifth-Grader Prohibited From Giving Speech Supporting Marriage Equality

(via Reddit) Read the rest

An open letter to Minnesota state senator Amy Koch

It doesn't appear to count toward the tally at GayHomophobe.com (where it's now been 6 days since the last time a homophobic public figure turned out to be queer), but Minnesota state senator Amy Koch has joined the vaunted ranks of politicians who are deeply concerned about the sanctity of all marriages except their own. The married Koch recently resigned as Senate majority leader after word got out that she'd had an "inappropriate relationship" with a male staffer.

Koch is a major force behind the attempt to enshrine special rights for straight people into Minnesota's constitution, so you might have thought she'd treat her own magical straight marriage with the respect it deserves. John Medeiros, co-curator of Minneapolis' Intermedia Arts' Queer Voices reading series, can only conclude that lapse into blatant hypocrisy must, somehow, be the fault of queer people. So, he's written an open letter, apologizing to Senator Koch, on behalf of queer Minnesotans, for forcing her to betray the sanctity of straight marriage.

Dear Ms. Koch,

On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community's successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage.  We are ashamed of ourselves for causing you to have what the media refers to as an "illicit affair" with your staffer, and we also extend our deepest apologies to him and to his wife. These recent events have made it quite clear that our gay and lesbian tactics have gone too far, affecting even the most respectful of our society.

Read the rest