By The Progressive on May 19, 2008

The California Supreme Court has blessed our family.

Our daughter, Elly, married her partner, Janelle, in San Francisco in 2004. But until the court ruled on May 15 that their union was constitutional, Elly did not have equal rights in America.

Opponents of gay marriage say it will be bad for families. So let's talk about families.

Early in the 20th century, Elly’s maternal great grandparents came to America from Russia to escape religious persecution. Her great grandfather vowed that instead of fighting for his life, he would work to save other people's lives, and he became a chiropractor. He moved his family to California because of the promise of universal college education.

A few years later, her paternal great grandparents came to California from Japan looking for a better life. Both families found an America where there was still lots of work to be done.

Racism was the rule of the land; those were the days of the shameful words "separate but equal.”

In the America of our grandparents' and parents' youth, we couldn't have married. It was in 1947 that interracial marriage was legalized in California.

We were lucky. Both our families embraced our marriage. Like our parents before us, we raised our daughter to value the whole human family, and equal rights for all. Years before we had any idea that our daughter was a bisexual, we were teaching her that marriage should be for everyone who wants it. She saw us working for that day.

Marriage equality for all is anything but an "attack" on marriage. It's a defense of the best that marriage and family can be.

All loving parents hope to be able to pass their values on to their children.

All loving parents hope to see their child secure in the love of their chosen partner in life, if the child chooses to marry. We know we won't be around forever, and we hope that when we're gone, someone who loves our child as much as we do will be there for her.

That means someone who can visit her in the hospital, tell the doctors what to do if she can't speak for herself, share their earnings and insurance and support each other in building financial security, share a name if they so choose, take equal responsibility for loving and educating both their children.

We were lucky enough to raise our daughter in an environment where being interracial was "no big deal.” Now we want to see our grandchildren able to grow up in a world where having two mommies or two daddies is just an everyday reality — no different than having one of each, and less important than whether to play baseball or soccer after school.

There will never be another day like that day in 2004 when our daughters got married. A dream we had barely dared to dream came true. We laughed and cried for joy, and hundreds of people laughed and cried around us. Our daughters' hands trembled as they exchanged rings, and our hands trembled, too.

And for Ken there will never be another birthday like May 15, 2008 — the day the dream that had been taken away from us was brought back to life.

We know the story isn't over. Already, people who are motivated more by fear than love have collected signatures for an anti-marriage constitutional amendment that may appear on California's ballot this November.

Yes, anti-marriage — because for no good reason, it would once again deny our daughter's dream, and stop many Californians who love each other from marrying each other.

But we will fight that misguided amendment with all our hearts and all our strength — for our children, and our grandchildren.

For our family, and all families.

Ken and Molleen Matsumura are members of the Oakland, Calif., chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), where Molleen serves as co-chair. Their daughter, Elly, married her partner in San Francisco in 2004. They can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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