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From the HRC website: "In May 2008, California’s Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the equal right to marry under the state constitution.  That decision was effectively overruled when Proposition 8 was approved by voters on Nov. 4, 2008 by a 52.3 - 47.7% margin."

Maybe we're just naive, but we had no idea how and how much pressure was brought to bear on California voters to assure that the Supreme Court's decision would not stand. And much of the information presented to the public in films and written material was patently false. (See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1484522/. Watch the movie trailer for "8: The Mormon Proposition 2010") or stream the entire film from Netflix.

This obviously has significant implications for all voters in those states where a constitutional amendment barring same gender marriage might be put to a general vote. It behooves all of us to understand the forces behind manipulative lobbying efforts to sway the vote either way on this important issue.

 
 
A man in his 60's writes:
Bonnie and Jane -
   I finished reading your book last evening, and here are my immediate takeaways:
- Your book was striking in its honesty and courage. I would not have been able to write about my personal life as both of you were able to do, nor deal with the myriad of difficult issues you faced.
- This book was obviously well received by a significant number of people - including me.
- I was amazed by Jane's character, intellect, and ability to find ways to grow despite the hideous treatment she received for years from those family members who were supposed to love her.
- Erin's senior essay about Bonnie's influence as her Mom was one of the most touching I have ever read.
- It is difficult for me to understand how so many people need to inflict pain and intentional hurt on others simply because they have chosen a different path.
   Thank you for sharing your book with me.  
                =============================================
And a woman from France wrote:
   Once I started your book it was difficult to put down.  My major thoughts during the reading was of course the obstacles that you had to face with each respective family and other people, but the most interesting as far as I am concerned was the continuous personal introspection to grow spiritually during these difficult times.  It gives me courage to know that life is a spiritual development and no matter the length of the journey we will grow introspectively in love and light. I will also be delighted to recommend your book to anyone I feel would benefit of your experience.                            ==============================================
Just bought your book yesterday at a conference (thank you for signing it!). I read it before I went to sleep and had dreams about you both - deep, good dreams - then finished the book as soon as I woke up. What a beautiful story and beautifully written book by two very beautiful people. So much love and spirituality comes shining through the pages of your journey together. Big hugs to you both.
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A fellow author from MN wrote:
Hi Bonnie and Jane,
Read your book over the last few days! Lovely! Well written! Brave! Forthright! Engrossing! You two surely laid out the years of trials and tribulations and I was so happy at the end to read that you and Jane's family have pretty much reconciled. Hard to cover 30-some years in 219 pages and especially from two points of view. Congratulations! And kudos on your recent award!

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We deeply appreciate every person's comments and are grateful to have touched so many.
 
 
Marlo Thomas, author of Free to Be You and Me (37 years ago), writes about the need for children today to be Free to Be Without Bullying.  Read her comments at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlo-thomas/marlo-thomas-bullying_b_866313.html

 
 
A neighbor, Louise, told us this story about our book:

She said she was having lunch with some long-time friends in New York, when the conversation turned to books each of them was reading.  Louise told the group she had just finished our book, You and No Other, and would highly recommend it. A friend of hers, Betty, later asked her to repeat the name of the book.

About a month later, Louise received a call from Betty. Seems Irish Catholic Betty, mother of six children, had long denied that her oldest daughter Carolyn was most likely in a lesbian relationship, and consequently there had been no conversation between them over the years regarding Carolyn's personal life. As a result, Carolyn and her partner had grown much closer to her partner's family, all of whom were openly accepting of their relationship.

After reading You and No Other and telling her husband they weren't going to be ashamed of their daughter any longer, Betty called Carolyn and after many years they've begun having conversations about Carolyn's whole life - not just the bits and pieces Betty had been willing to hear and Carolyn knew it was safe to talk about. Betty called to thank Louise for changing her (Betty's) life by changing the relationship with Carolyn she had created out of fear - and for our book having given her the courage to again relate deeply and honestly with her beloved daughter .

This is just what we've always hoped our book might accomplish in helping individuals to better understand one another. Thanks, Louise, for sharing the story.
 
 
Another member of that fabulous book group we met with in Marshalltown, IA has written another letter to the editor regarding Iowa's efforts to overturn their Supreme Court's decision to allow gays to marry:
                                                                                        February 3, 2011

Dear Editor, Marshalltown Times Republican:

I think we would all agree that our state legislature has many serious problems to deal with this session - creating jobs, stimulating the economy, improving our schools, and balancing our budget.   That is why I am concerned that so much time has been devoted to passing an amendment to prevent gay individuals from retaining their marriage rights. 

Approval of this amendment would overturn the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous decision giving gay Iowans the same freedoms and responsibilities as the rest of us - to marry whomever we choose.  The Iowa Supreme Court is responsible for interpreting our laws regarding their constitutionality - and that is exactly what these justices did.

Iowa has had a long and proud tradition of giving its citizens the opportunity to reach their full potential.    Many gay Iowans make important contributions to our communities each day - caregivers, teachers, nurses, doctors, legislators, and business owners - to mention just a few.   I look forward to the day when the value of these individuals is measured by their hard work and accomplishments, not by whom they love.

Sincerely,

Nancy Earney – Marshalltown, IA


 
 
Published Letter to the Editor:
It seems to me that our world is becoming more divided by the labels or negative names we are putting on the men, women, and children who are different from us.  This lack of respect is being done at a time when our Marshalltown community must come together to support one another as human beings, not as labels or negative names to bully one another.

I had a huge wake- up call this past week, sitting with a group of women to listen to a story of pain, struggle and endurance, by two women who went through so much because of their love for one another as partners for the last 35 years.  Meeting and getting to know them made their story real told by real people who were interesting and intelligent women, and not their gay labels.  I was able to honor their strength and their honesty.

I feel I am a member of a really great Marshalltown Community.  I grew up here and came back here because it is home to me.  But I see many men, women, and children who are truly hurting because of  the divisiveness of discrimination;  and this comes in many forms whether skin color, race, religion or sexual orientation.

When I grew up here, it was basically a White community with a few African American families and a few Jewish families.  When I returned, I was delighted to see a multi-cultural society with the blending together of many kinds of skin color, race, races, religions and sexual orientation.  The reality of hurtful words and negative tones has truly saddened me.

As a former educator, my heart has been rent with the news stories of young teens who cannot survive bullying because they are gay or lesbians, and they feel their only choice is to die. As a mother, I am deeply saddened by families who choose to throw out and throw away their gay child because they don’t want them anymore. They are missing the joy that child could bring and the love they could share by allowing them to be true to who they are.

We are all equal human beings, whether we are straight, gay, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Black, White, Brown, Native American, Hispanic or any other label we seem to need to wear or  name others in our society.

When are we going to start putting a face on each of these labels and see the person and listen to their story?

I believe it was Jesus who commanded us to love one another. There was no hating or labels, exceptions or exclusiveness in that commandment. It included loving ALL human beings.

The Marshalltown that I have always known has always had a wonderful spirit about it and an on-going positive energy to set goals for the betterment of the town we live in.  Let us continue to set goals that are welcoming and respectful of all human beings that choose to abide in this fabulous place that I call my home.

Jeannine Heng, longtime Marshalltown resident

 
 
Dear Rich (pastor of a Presbyterian Church),
         I have started this letter in my mind many times and now feel compelled to compose my thoughts and try to convey to you how I feel about the pending vote to be taken by the congregation at the annual meeting Sunday regarding the General Assembly’s (GA) recommendation to allow non-celibate gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as pastors, elders or deacons. I will be out of town on Sunday and unfortunately will be unable to cast my vote.
         I know you and Dave (another minister) do not support this recommendation from the GA, and I want you to know why I do.  In our family, we have several homosexuals—my son, sister, sister-in-law, cousin, and my sister (also a member of the church) has a gay nephew.  All of these people are talented, gifted, intelligent and positive contributors to society.  Not one of them chose to be gay, any more than you or I chose to be heterosexual.  Being with a person of the opposite sex is as unnatural to them as being with a person of the same sex is to us.  When they realize they are different from other people, they go through excruciating agony trying to come to grips with what they pray is not true. They have the highest suicide rate of any other segment of the population.  They would never, ever choose to live a life of exclusion, humiliation, rejection or fear---a life where they did not have the freedom to show their love and be able to openly share their life with another.  I believe that God does NOT make mistakes.  He has a “reason and a purpose for you being there and something he wants to do through you, where you are”. 
        I believe the churches are making a huge mistake by focusing on this issue.  There are things in the Bible that were allowed in those times, but which are not now, and things disallowed that are acceptable now.  The sexual mores in our society now are different from biblical times and word meanings have also changed, which makes for ambiguous passages that are open to interpretation.  Jesus never mentioned homosexuality but condemned divorce. Yet a divorcee can hold a church office, but a gay person cannot.  When congregants pick and choose which parts of the Bible support their argument as to who is or is not a sinner, they are guilty of hypocrisy of the highest order—not to mention making judgments that are not theirs to make.  What Jesus did command was that we love one another, and I believe in order to do that, everyone must be treated equally without discrimination of any sort.  Gays should be just as eligible to hold church offices as heterosexuals. We cannot love just part of a person and condemn another part. In this day and age of continuous church membership decline, no segment of our population should ever feel unwelcome in the house of God.  And homosexuals will never feel like they are part of a church family as long as they are barred from participation in the church’s life. It is estimated that they comprise 15% of the population.  They should not be made to feel like second-class citizens unworthy of God’s love.
       I love my gay son more than life itself, as I do my other children.  It has pained me that he has had to bear this extra burden in his life but I have accepted his reality, as has he.  Studies have shown that sexual preference is a heredity factor, not a chosen one.  And I have chosen to remain at First Presbyterian Church, despite the church’s position concerning gays, because I love my church family.  I can only pray that someday attitudes will change.  And I so wish it would be Sunday!  It goes without saying, that my sister and I would both cast our votes in favor of the GA recommendation if we could attend.                                                                                                                                                                                         Sincerely,
 
 
Thanks to Ashley, see this heart-breaking, heart-warming story about a true understanding of love, hope, and family at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/nyregion/24towns.html?_r=1&hp
 
 
  Timely and deeply provocative for those who are questioning the church’s stance on homosexuality or the right to marry issue, this memoir lays raw the lives of two women who speak from the heart to share their journey as married mid-aged women who inexplicably fall in love.   Challenged by their own homophobia and inner chaos, traditional religious views, immense professional responsibilities with now questionable job security, and an increasingly complex and painful entanglement of relationships with their confused husbands and eight children, they describe the struggles in their loving monogamous relationship through a period of thirty years. 

All of the family members, thrust into spiritual chaos and the realities of varying degrees of familial and societal marginalization related to the lesbian commitment, struggle to forge their individual way through constant issues with peers, friends, neighbors and each other.  The children’s struggles with Mom and other Mom are most vividly described and it is clear that in these times when making good choices is a common paradigm, almost no one involved knows what those are. 

Bonnie and Jane anchor their struggle by turning to God for prayer and guidance, offering love to all who will receive it, praying for peace for those who won’t, and at times bankrupting themselves of energy to continue.  Readers cannot help but be impressed by their eloquence and honesty, their alert understanding and empathy for others during the brutally occurring issues, their exceptional professional contributions toward the health and welfare of others and the tender love story which drives the drama.  The issues become clear.  The resolutions challenge us all.