I haven’t seen you in what seems like forever…

•October 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

It has been a long time, damnit.  So very long since I bothered to write anything here.  Two years!  How naughty and horrible am I?

Life has been ridiculously busy.  We moved to Mississippi and moved back 3 months later.  Eight months after that, the kids and I moved in with my boyfriend who I met in December 2011. We’ve been together since and are all happy and healthy, but not so weathly. 😉  We don’t intend to marry given that both of us were in rather horrible marriages with crappy outcomes.  We just want things to stay the way they are.  Equal and uncomplicated.

In late May of this year, we learned my mother was ill.  Three weeks later, on June 11, 2013, she was dead.  Stage IV Pancreatic cancer was the culprit and my life seems to have changed in so many ways now she’s gone.  The changes in me may seem minute to one on the outside looking in, but in my heart there is a hole that is so gaping, I feel like nothing can ever fill it.  I miss her horribly.  Yet, life clumsily bungles on.  My kids are growing, the leaves are changing, the weather is cooler and there is always solace to be found in the constancy of change. Samhain is a week away, Thanksgiving a month, and Yule is two months.  We will continue on without her and still laugh, joke, eat, and cry as if she were still here.  If she could see me, I wonder if she would feel as though I’ve forgotten her already.  Probably not.  I could imagine she would smile and be glad that I am living my life in spite of my grief, because she was the most wholly unselfish person I’ve ever known.

I work everyday. I track down people whose cars are up for repossession, I manage the office, and deal with the people who come in to collect their belongings or pay off their cars.  It’s enjoyable and I have two of the most amazing bosses ever.  Really sweet guys and I couldn’t be happier.  At least my family is [mostly] back on it’s feet after my divorce.  It took enough time, for real.

When I started this blog, I was a stay at home mother of two toddlers, and married to one of the most insensitive, hateful men to ever walk this earth.  When the decision was finally made to leave him, I knew life would change a lot but I had no idea whatsoever it would change to the degree it has.  I had no idea it would change ME to the degree it has.  It feels like I’ve aged 15 years in 4; probably looks it too.  I have a shit ton of gray hair.  But now, I have a beautiful, accepting and loving partner who thinks I’m beautiful no matter what.  He tells me that all the time, inexplicably when I have just woken up or late at night when I’ve smudged my makeup under my eyes.  He loves me so unconditionally that sometimes I think I might burst… I think he must be blind or crazy, but the fact is that he just loves me the same way I love him.  Making sense of life as it is, as it should have ALWAYS been, as it should always be, is sometimes difficult.  Seven years of abuse and neglect does that to a person.  Boyfriend and I don’t ever really talk mushy stuff other than the I love you’s, but he makes me so warm and fuzzy inside.  He really, I think, has NO idea how much I love him and how he seems to save me a little more everyday.  He has no idea the happiness I feel falling asleep next to him every night, or sitting on the couch with him, or making ridiculous jokes, or fussing about fundamentalists, or all the stuff we do.  I so deserve him, it just took me awhile to believe it myself. Being really in love is a process I never understood until now.  It’s awesome. I don’t think I would have handled my mother’s death with the amount of strength, decorum, and forbearance that I have without him.

I could disappear within him, the world be damned.  Which is kind of what I’ve done.

My work day is coming to a close and so shall this blog post.  It’s not my most articulate or entertaining, but it helps sometimes to write the emotions felt, or tell the story untold.  And, there you have it, in brief.  Hopefully, I will take the time to write more often and to give this blog the attention it deserves.

If you were a prior reader, then you will notice a lot of the old posts are gone. For whatever reason, I felt they no longer represented who I am or how I feel. I’ve left the others.

Au revoir, pour l’instant. 

 

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Halloween and Samhain – A Few Thoughts

•October 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment
I always find this time of year interesting.  Halloween, Samhain, Dia de los Muertos, etc.  There’s a feeling in the air, the feeling of memory; of spirit stirring.  The smell of Autumn is everywhere.  The air is cooler.  The leaves are all the color of flame.  There are pumpkins, hay, gourds, maize, scarecrows, ghosts and  goblins decorating houses and shops.  Apple Cider tastes like home and warmth.  The smell of pumpkin spice.  Oh, it’s just fabulous.

There is a downside, though, as a pagan.  The misconceptions, the judgments, the assumptions.  We’re often treated as though we’ve usurped October 31 from the masses and twisted it into something it isn’t.  The truth is, that is exactly what Halloween is.  A commercialized, secular “bastardization” of a pagan holy day and harvest festival.

We don’t make animal offerings or copulate with the devil/demons (we don’t even recognize Satan – he’s a Christian invention).  We don’t get together and do rituals that call forth evil beings from the deep or run around putting curses on people.  All we do is celebrate another beautiful year, count our blessings of abundance, and focus on remembering those who have passed before us.  We honor the dead in this realm so that when they visit us on that night, they will know they are not forgotten here.  We remember ancestors from long ago, who, without their seed we would never be here.  We remember their pain, their sacrifices, the hard lives they lived, the contributions they made to the world simply by existing.  We remember all those who have passed without grief, but with celebration – for they have made the transiiton between this world and the next.  We celebrate the year past, remembering all the good and not-so-good things we’ve experienced and we look forward to the Wheel of the Year turning once again and filling our lives with the beauty of the seasons, holy days, celebrations, and joy.

Back to the meat, though. Most of us pagans REVEL in Halloween!  We love it!  It’s fun, it’s cute, it’s scary (if you’re into the scary side)!  There’s trick or treating and little kids dressed like bumblebees, superheroes, princesses, and skeletons.  The truth is, though, that Halloween is something that most of us separate completely from Samhain itself.  (Btw, Samhain is pronounced Sow-in .. and that’s sow as in cow not sow as in sow your corn)  The pagan celebration of Samhain is not Halloween.  The observances we make or attend, the rituals some perform, and the offerings some make to their altars is not Halloween and never was.

We’re happy to share such a beautiful day with Halloween – because we all love Halloween, too!  Sure, some of the depictions of witches are mildly disturbing if they are hanging or depicted being burned. That puts us all in mind of The Burning Times – a time when so many innocents died in the name of religious tyranny and most weren’t even witches at all. But all in all, Halloween is just fun.  Harmless, silly fun.  A day that we share with everyone else who enjoys it, no matter what they believe or don’t believe.

Samhain itself is as diverse a holiday as they come.  There are so many different pagan traditions and beliefs.  Some don’t even celebrate Samhain because their tradition is not derived from the Celts.  Most of what you hear about Samhain are broad generalizations or Wiccan.  Some of us look at it and celebrate it differently.  Just remember, belief is as open to interpretation in our spiritual paths as it is in all others.  Some of us (myself included) don’t share the details of what we do or how exactly we observe.. simply because our spiritual side is private and wonderfully individual.  Many only share the actual meat of our belief with others in the pagan community – or others that come into our tradition… and some never share with anyone at all.  It’s part of the beauty of who we are.  We’re glad to explain to others of different faiths or those who are just curious.  Our explanations tend to be incredibly broad and general.  We don’t try to bring over anyone to our way of thinking, we just like people to understand it for what it is and dispel the myths and misconceptions that follow us where ever we go.

So, this Samhain – if you or anyone around you wonders what the holiday really is, just remember it’s a holy day for many.  Remember that those many who are so often misunderstood are just people who believe in peace, harmony with nature, and love.

Have a happy Halloween and a blessed Samhain!

Alex, I’ll Have “I Hate You For Your Religion” for 1,000, Please.

•June 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I sit here tonight, the lives of my children and I about to change.  We leave in 36 hours for Mississippi where we’re starting our lives over.  Where we will make it out of the dark, finally.  Adele plays in my ear – not my normal metal – but this goddess, wailing beautifully invoking my pensive nature.  I’ve so much on my mind lately, most of it selfish – or at least centered on my own family.  Tonight, though, I feel bombarded with things that make me uncomfortable.  Namely, the intolerance of religion.

For once, I’m going to write an opinion based blog without calling specific people out.

It came to my knowledge yesterday about some sort of online voting competition for mothers who run faith-based blogs.  There were no actual limitations on the type of faith represented in the blog, but a controversy emerged.  One Christian blogger decided to write the most venomous, foul, and disgusting piece of judgmental tripe I’ve ever had the misfortune to read simply because a pagan-based blog placed high in the voting.  As if that wasn’t annoying enough…

Earlier I saw an article posted by a Facebook acquaintance about a judge’s ruling in Texas, prohibiting the use of faith-based words at a commencement (graduation) ceremony based on a suit filed by two atheist parents.  This acquaintance’s comment on the article went something like this: “atheist or not, this is a new low”.  Note my disappointment in people’s lack of understanding here.  Those people have as much right to have a ceremony VOID of religion as anyone has a right to have religion included!

Another, very liberal and open friend posted an article about the same Texas situation, but this article was about the Valedictorian’s fight to have the ruling overturned.  His comments were more in line, questioning why conservative Christians think it’s ok for them to have a prayer in public which, in turn, they expect everyone in attendance to either participate in or sit quietly and respectfully by while it’s conducted.  Would they, however, offer that right to a Muslim?  Would they turn to Mecca to pray to respect the beliefs of their fellow humans? Their equals?  Would they allow a pagan rite to commence? Would they sit idly by while a witch smudged the area, or called Quarters?

This was my response to that thread: “I don’t think it’s WRONG to believe in god, if that’s what floats your boat, brings you comfort, or just seems natural. I may not understand the logic behind it, but I’m all for people having whatever faith they choose – so long as they conduct themselves in private and not force their beliefs on others -OR- show the same respect to other beliefs (and non-believers) in public situations as they expect themselves. If we’re talking about fair, then fair is equality.. something we are seriously lacking in any faith-based discussion or situation in this country.”

It’s 2011.  Two thousand and eleven, A.D.  Why do we continue to see such intolerance and hatred and bigotry in our species?   I see slow progress in some quarters, sure, but as a whole we are the same beasts of hatred we’ve always been.  It breaks my heart.  It makes me resent and feel negatively toward religion as a whole – EVEN PAGANISM.  And I say that because it’s just another point of contention in a world that wants to fight about every fucking thing.

I believe (or don’t believe) in my own little world of faith or lack thereof.  No need to get into it. I want every Christian and Muslim and Hindu and Pagan and Jew to all just get over their-goddamn-selves.  Grow up, humanity.

We all bleed the same color.

We all cry the same tears.

We all are organically the same.

We are all equal.. UNLESS we prove ourselves inferior simply through ignorance, intolerance, and hatred.

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

•May 14, 2011 • 2 Comments

Unreal.  It’s been over a year since I posted on my lovely little blog.  Over a year.  So much has happened and changed that I wouldn’t even know where to begin.   Needless to say that whilst life is monumentally different, I’m the same foul mouthed, liberal thinking, opinion giving free spirit I’ve always been.  That will never change. 😉

I’m divorced now and it’s just the kids and I.  I suppose I need to dig out the “about me” section and do a little editing.  Anyway, the old ex-ball-and-chain is long gone – back to his homeland of New Zealand.  I still, after almost a year, can’t believe he left the kids – but hey.. if it walk and talks like a duck, it’s usually an useless asshole of a bastard.   But, enough of that..

I’m moving!  Fresh start.  I’m really very excited about it and with only a couple of weeks to go, I’m antsy and wishing time would pass so we could just get to our new lives.

It’s rough going – this single parenting.  Not that it was all that much easier when I was married, but at least the financial burdens weren’t as difficult then.  Damn, kiddies are expensive and the money just melts away no sooner than I get it.

The past few months have taught me a lot.  First and foremost, dependency is a bad, bad thing.  I was very dependent on the ex financially because I was a stay-at-home mom.  That was my life.  It’s all different now and all the notions I had for raising my children are having to be rewritten.  That’s a tough pill to swallow for me because I resist base change.. to my very core.  But, I’ve also learned that freedom is so much more important.  The kids and I have little, but we’re content and happy.  Our days are filled with laughter, tickles, cuddles, stories, and love.  I hate to give that up to go back to work and for them to go to school, but we’ll find our way all the same when the changes come.

That’s just what we do.

Every story can be rewritten as circumstances change and choices are made.  It’s time I bought a new journal, don’t ya think.

Peace.

Musings on the South

•April 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

You know, the South has quite a shitty reputation.  People’s opinion of the South itself is generally riddled with blanket judgments, stereotypes, and very unfair ideas.

Yes, the South is conservative.  That’s a huge thorn in my side.  There are churches everywhere and come Sunday morning they’re all pretty packed to the brim.   If you live in any populated area of the South – be assured that you will have the religious types knocking on your door in a bid to get you to come to their church.  The South is also riddled with racism and ignorance… but then again, when I think about it – everywhere is.  Perhaps it’s a bit more rampant in the South, but it is certainly NOT an exclusively Southern affliction.

We have a beautiful heritage set amidst a beautiful landscape.  The dark clouds of slave ownership and subsequent segregation still hang over our heads, but those facets of our past do not make us who we are.  Black and white alike, being a Southerner is not a bad thing, unless your own ignorance lets it be.  There is a remarkable heritage there behind the unfortunate.  We are resilient, proud, and embrace the adventurous spirit of our families before us – the families that settled this land.  Those of us who come from poorer background have deep love for nature, gardening, and the traditions that have been kept alive here in the south for generations.   Things like food preservation, quilting, farming (even on a small scale), woodworking, cooking, music, and the satisfaction received by a day of hard work.  As a child, I remember one of my favorite late summer past times was sitting on the front porch with my Mom and PawPaw shucking corn, hulling peas, and snapping beans.  I loved catching lightning bugs in jars and watching them blink on my bedside table as I nodded off to sleep, poking snakes daddy killed with sticks to watch them move, tracking animals in the woods and finding bear and mountain lion tracks, picking the massive flowers on magnolia trees for Momma, riding my bike on old dirt roads, whittling wood on the back porch with PawPaw with my pocket knife, splitting wood in the fall for the woodpile and our old wood burning stove that we used for heat, drinking ice cold sweet water out of the spring, and playing on the tire swing in the big oak out front.  These are all recent memories, not memories of my mother or grandmother.

I’m one of those people who know that “soul food” and “southern cooking” are synonymous.  I know that you always pick your greens  in the late fall after at least one frost.  The frost takes away some of the bitter flavor.  I know what pot liquor is.  I know the secret to making perfect biscuits.  I know bacon, ham, and ham hocks have uses that would be unimaginable for anyone outside the South.  I know how to make Souse meat/head cheese.  I know how to make tea cakes and the secret to good ones is to let them season in bags for a week or two.  I know the process of making hominy.  I know how to use lye and borax.  I’ve washed clothes on an old wood and tin washboard before.  I know the perfect places to get worms for fishing… and I know how to bait my own hook and clean the fish.  I can clean rabbits and deer too – don’t want to – but I can do it.  I can shoot a gun – don’t like it – but I can do it.  I can use a hoe and in fact, I plan on using one today.  It’s the week of Easter, the week we always plant.  I know that planting on Good Friday brings the best luck, but I’m going to take my chances and plant the day before. 😉

I am a direct descendant of George G Bynum – an unknown farm laborer who, for whatever reasons, joined up with the 28th Alabama Infantry in Blount County.  He traveled to Shelby county where the unit formed and set off for Tishamonga.  He survived battles at Tishamonga, Tupelo, and Murpheesboro before being captured in Kentucky and sent to a Union POW camp at Chickamauga, GA.  He remained captive for quite awhile before being forced into conscription by the Union army after the war was over.  He died a year later while in service, cause unknown.  I don’t presume to know the secrets of my great great grandfather’s heart.  I don’t know why a poor man and all of his brothers signed up to fight for the Confederacy… but I do know that he must’ve been a brave and loyal  man.  He left his wife and children in 1862 only to die 4 years later away from home – never to see any of them again.  I know his wife must have been a tough and resilient woman to raise all those children on her own and never marry again.  She died in 1919.  I don’t judge my ancestor for his service in the Confederacy, and in fact, I embrace it.  Regardless of the reasons for the war, he fought and later died in service and I am proud to be his granddaughter.  I *am* a daughter of the Confederacy whether or not I agree with the reasons behind the war, and I have no reason not to be proud of that fact.  It has nothing to do with racism or slavery and everything to do with being descended from a brave man and a brave family.  These are people that used the strength of their backs to work the land.  They weren’t antebellum living people, they were cabin living people who were digging out an existence in horrible times.  Whatever their convictions were made them products of the time they lived in, not bad people.

You can judge the South for our history, mock us for our accents, or generally dismiss us as stupid but it doesn’t change the fact that we are an integral part of this country and it’s history.  We are contributors whether you like us our not.  Our landscape is amongst the most beautiful and diverse in the world and if you manage to live your life without seeing the True South, then I feel for you.  If you never walk  through the French Quarter while marveling at the architecture and reveling in the memories of generations, if you never drive down St. Charles Avenue and see the homes, if you never visit Memphis and Beale Street and drink in the music, if you never visit Savannah or Charleston or Mobile or Biloxi, if you never see the Smokey Mountains or the mighty Mississippi river at it’s widest point, if you never discover the small town charms of the Old South, Little River Canyon, Noccallula Falls, Cheaha, Stone Mountain, the Mississippi River Delta, the battlefields and grave yards, the state parks and national forests, the southern Appalachians, the Ozarks, the blue grass of Kentucky, the old houses both grand and simple that dot this landscape, then you haven’t lived.

Don’t judge a entire region and it’s people for one aspect of it’s past, or the way they talk.  It may be a different world down here and I know that it seems like you need a passport to cross the Mason Dixon line, but it’s worth it.  This is our little world and it may be different from yours, but it’s no less beautiful.

Forefathers and Foremothers – A few thoughts…

•March 15, 2010 • 4 Comments

My family tree.  I put in the work to do it – compiling, comparing, begging for help, spending the money, pouring over documents, etc and it took me 8 years to do what I’ve done so far. Some lines are traced as far as they can be, others still need work.  It is absolutely fascinating. It’s like a star burst – flailing out in all directions with oneself at its core.  The history, the grandparents that multiply exponentially with each generation of the tree, the names you read, the properties owned, the battles fought, and the lives lost..

It reads like an exodus to America from the British Isles, except for that one branch of my Father’s side that dead ends with a Creek beauty who married an English immigrant – my  great-grandfather and grandmother.  My dad still remembers his grandmother from childhood.  He calls her “a tiny woman with brown skin and hair plaited down below her bottom”.  I wonder what her story was – who her father and mother were – and how far back she knew her own heritage.  How much was lost because the government didn’t deem their lines worthy of recording.  You can see her in my father.  He looks Native American but for blue eyes.

I take after my western European mothers.  Fair skinned, blue eyes, brown hair. Nearly 1/2 of my heritage can be traced back to Ireland – mostly to County Mayo and Galway, but some branches to the east – like one to County Wicklow.  Some trails lead to Wales, some to the highlands of Scotland – Inverness and the Granite City of Aberdeen.   Further south, I have ties all over England – even trails that lead to specific manors and estates.  These are the most easily traced lines.  I remember when I first stumbled on the possibility of being descended of the Plantagenets.  I laughed and thought I’d gotten a lead wrong.  I checked, rechecked, and compared other trees only to learn that Edward I (Longshanks) was a grandfather of mine – all of those centuries ago. I am a direct descendant of Joan of Acre, Edward I’s eldest daughter.  From his hundreds of thousands of descendants, I was still amazed to learn I was one.  And from him, the line grows illustrious.  Names like Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard I,  William the Conqueror, and Alfred the Great… and even further back – to the middle of the 6th century.  The branches flow into the Scottish, Irish, Welsh, French, Scandinavian, Spanish, German,  and Italian royalty of the early high middle ages.

It’s quite humorous too that I, daughter of Kings, sit here without a pot to piss in.   It’s also fascinating to know that so many people who read this would share that branch of my ancestry.  Human propagation is swift, and in the matter of just a couple of centuries (much less seven centuries), the issue from one marriage can produce thousands of descendants.

In a thousand years, I’ll be just a dot on someone’s family tree – if they even bother to look back.  But what will my children be?  My grandchildren? My great-grandchildren?  Maybe they will be someone’s Edward I.  I hope so.

I think most people forget the meaning and significance of heritage and our blood ties to history.  There is such pride there, and I’m not referring to the branch of my tree that dips its feet in royalty either.  I’m just as proud of my vague Native American heritage, my quiet Irish and Scottish heritage.. all of it.  I am living history – the proof that my mothers and fathers before me existed all the way back to the dawn of our species.  The same as you are.  Whatever stories our ancestors had, whatever happiness they experienced, or heartache, or trauma, or loss.. is remembered vaguely in my blood. My great-grandfather who left his pregnant wife to fight, and die for the Confederacy is still remembered.  The four brothers who came from England as indentured servants, the fore-bearers of my maiden name, carried royal blood, are remembered.  The Irish families who came here, looking for a better life, refusing to work another man’s land any longer brought their culture, their music, and their spirit to Appalachia, are remembered.

I always wax poetic about heritage near St Patrick’s day.  The day my world turns green.  It’s been a favorite holiday of mine since I was a little girl.  I treat it a little like Samhain – the remembrance of ancestors – except on St Patty’s day, I focus on that (almost) 1/2 of my ancestry that is Irish.  I love it.  I revel in it.  It makes me proud and a little sad all at the same time.

I’m glad that twice a year, I spend a day remembering the lives of the people who made MY life possible.  My love for history, my own family sentimentality, and the inexorable ties I feel to my past are part of what makes me who I am.

Now, who wants a Guinness? 😉

“Yes, I’m Angry” – A Guest Article

•November 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Last night, the idiots people of Maine voted to repeal the legislation giving same-sex couples the right to marry.  My dear friend Alan posted the following note on Facebook this morning and I am reposting it here with permission.

YES, I’M ANGRY
Why? Well if you really want to know (or care) keep reading. If not, then scroll on down to all the happy crap.
Yet another state went to the polls to vote on whether or not to allow same sex couples marry. The majority spoke, and said no. For the life of me, I cannot understand the hysteria and fear. I cannot understand why some adults must ask, no, beg for permission to get married from their heterosexual neighbors. Do you think you have some special right to it? Do you feel you must protect it? Do you feel that if homosexuals are allowed to marry, then it somehow lessens your traditional marriage? Do you fear that God will punish you? Well I will attempt to answer some of those questions.

Do you think you have some special right to it? No. The 14th amendment of the constitution supposedly guarantees equal protection under the law, or in other words we are all equal. No one is better than anyone else. No one is less.

Do you feel you must protect it? Do you feel that if homosexuals are allowed to marry, then it somehow lessens your traditional marriage? Now there’s a laugh. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. I would think if you consider marriage so sacred, you would want to clean out your own closets before you try and protect your ‘sacred institution’ from others. Here’s a thought. Make divorce illegal. Once your married, your married. No getting out of it because of whatever pathetic reason one feels is reasonable.

Do you fear that God will punish you? Well, Im sure there are plenty of things God will punish you for other than voting to allow SSM. This is the big issue. The big kahuna. God. I have read where the Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 to heterosexuals. So who really warrants more supervision?

We live in a pluralistic society. By that I mean we have one single constitution that unites all brands or abandons of religion, race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc. SSM is NOT … let me repeat … is NOT a religious issue. It is a civil one. If I could unscrew the tops off peoples heads and make them truly grasp and understand this next comment I would. Your religious beliefs are yours and yours alone. You and someone else may share them, but ultimately they are still yours. You develop your own moral compass and it is up to you to live by that moral compass. You cannot … repeat CAN NOT force anyone else to live by your moral compass, nor will you be held accountable for someone else’s transgressions. If your neighbor commits a murder, should you go to jail or Hell for it? Of course not. If you commit murder, then you will pay the price, either in this life or the next. So then, what makes it your business if I want to marry someone that is the same sex as myself? Its not your business.

If the 19th amendment to the constitution was up to a popular vote, what is the likelihood it would have passed? Well, since the 19th amendment prohibits each state and the federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote because of that citizen’s sex – or gave women the right to vote – then chances are it would not have passed because only white men would have been allowed to vote on it. Sure, eventually women would have kept fighting for their right to vote, but how much longer would it have taken? Would some states still deny women’s right to vote? Could be. Alabama and Mississippi, at least.

Ok. There’s my rant.

I want to restate what I posted as my status. If you, my “friend” would ever vote to deny me the right to marry my partner of 12 years, then you are NOT my friend and I want you to go to your friends list right now and delete me. Sure, my feelings might be a little hurt when I start to miss you, but at least I know who is for me and who is against me. If you choose to remain my friend after this, I thank you and your friendship is appreciated. I also expect you to defend my right to marry.

Atlanta, 1998
New Orleans 2001
Cozumel 2005