By now everyone knows that David and I were married on March 3rd – just two days ago – at high noon in Bay County, Florida. Our last gift of the evening was the invitation to watch the live-stream of “8.” As we tuned in and watched the unfolding of this incredible and honest accounting of the trial, I felt compelled to write this article.
While watching the accounts of the witnesses, I could relate so deeply to the emotional issues that we all face. In California transgender marriages have been legally recognized as legal marriages since the 1970s. For that reason, Transgenders are not included in this suit, which is now waiting to be heard by our nation’s highest court. It is inevitable that Gay and Lesbian rights will be secured through the Supreme Court. It’s about time. Here is my question: Will those constitutional rights be in a constant struggle as is Roe v. Wade, constantly coming under attack with new legislation every year by those who remain in ignorance and attempt to strip away the hard fought and hard earned equal protection under the law?
I believe such rights will again come under attack, and again I advocate for a full and complete human rights amendment to the United States Constitution so that this cannot happen with the passing of one administration or one Supreme Court Judge. In The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson eloquently states and reminds us that Our Creator has endowed us with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Yet today we live in a nation that would leave it up to the voters to define another person’s happiness. The only way this right can become fully protected is through such an amendment to The United States Constitution. Yet it is urgent that the LGBTQ Communities be represented in the highest offices of Government.
Transgenders are the last remaining class of individuals who will not be protected under a Supreme Court decision regarding Proposition 8. In most States in our Nation transgender marriages are not protected under state laws.
The most recent example is the invalidation of Nikki Araguz’s marriage in Texas. We have a beautiful young woman married to a firefighter who tragically dies while fighting a fire in the line of duty. Yet during her grieving process her rights are stripped away and she is not allowed to collect widow’s benefits. She is destroyed by the media, harassed, and made to feel as though she is damaged goods not worthy of equal protection under the law. Personally I know all of those horrible emotions.
What about the invalidation in Texas of the marriages of Christie Lee Littleton who was denied the right to sue on her husband’s behalf for wrongful death, and J’Noel Gardiner in Kansas who experienced the same denial of equal protection and was prevented from inheriting her husband’s estate?
The courts in many states are invalidating what should be legal marriages as same-sex marriages and denying equal protection of the law, in order to strip loving spouses of all legal rights. This is insane, unjust, and unfair. In every instance these are transgender women who have become the targets of extreme discrimination.
As the play “8” closed the curtain so to speak, I turned to look at David and said: “Regardless of the marriage license provided to us by Bay County, I am still not secure in the fact that our marriage won’t be challenged or reversed.” David quickly reminded me that this also affects him and he will fight to retain our legal rights as husband and wife. His exact words were, “Nobody will ever take you away from me.” This is our marriage, and these are our rights.
Memories of my own experiences within the justice system still loom large and the pain of those days has been indelibly stamped into the memories of my life. It is a pain that can only be healed through the protection of all humans. I recall being told – by the investigator Dennis Smith, who had been a part of my supposed legal team assigned to protect and defend me – that I would burn in hell for changing what God created.
I recall Detective Aaron Wilson of the Parker Police, who responded this way to a question I asked him as he walked me in handcuffs from the Bay County courthouse to the jail for booking yet once again: “When will this end?” I asked. His response was “When you quit.” I asked, “When I quit living?” He glared at me with the most vehement hate and disgust in his eyes. When we arrived at the jail he ordered the female booking officer to take me to the restroom and verify my gender. He did this so that everyone present would know that I was a transvestite. First of all, I am not a transvestite, I am a transgender female. The pain of my heart swelled to tears running down my face while I begged the officer not to put me through this humiliation. I could feel her compassion as she asked me to please not cry and shared her own disdain of the detective’s request. Yet she was legally obligated to follow his orders. Later that day in the holding facilities of the county jail I was forced to go through the same humiliation again.
These were not isolated incidents – they have repeatedly been my experience over the past fifteen years. Equal Protection under the Law from all corners must come into existence. Thank God to this date I am the only transgender (to our knowledge) who became a target and was imprisoned simply for being a transgender. Yet, this happened to me and it can happen to others. Because I was born differently, I lived in the midst of the most ignorant and unfounded hate against a human. I cannot and will not be silenced and it is my greatest prayer that not one other transgender be subjected to such violence on an emotionally devastating front.
This morning I read an article about the transgender woman from Jakarta, Indonesia, who was once the nanny to President Barack Obama when he was a young boy. It is a must read for those wanting to understand the discrimination we transgenders face around the world. Because The United States as a country is a world leader, it is our moral and legal obligation to lead by example and send legislation through our Congress, Senate and ultimately to the President for signature, amending our Constitution to include all humans. NO ONE SHOULD BE LEFT BEHIND!
My husband and best friend David Webster has feelings he would like to add to this posting so I say thanks to all of you who have shared in our dream of equality and in our joys of matrimony. I ask only one favor: please let your voices be heard in Washington and stand with all of humanity in the Equal Protection of Law for all people.
I am truly blessed to have met Erica. We soon became best friends and writing partners. We quickly fell in love with each other and we discovered that we are true soul mates. Now we are husband and wife and we are extremely happy. I am really lucky because she thinks I am cute and funny, to boot. Erica is the love of my life, we are life partners, and we are both dedicated to working for liberty and justice for all humans on Earth. We will begin with a Constitutional Amendment and then take the transgender cause to the United Nations and the individual leaders of every country on Earth. We seek to promote change within existing governmental systems because this is the way that offers the best hope for lasting change without causing harm to anyone.
Erica and I grew up in the 1960s – it was a time of the Peace Generation and the “Flower Power” movement. I am very lucky to have been a successful Rock and Roll musician from 1962-1971, and I did not have to suffer the horrible injustices that Erica endured, nor did I experience the horrible hate crimes or witness the murders of transgenders that occur every day all over the world. I am honored to be working with Erica for her Foundation for International Justice.
It is our intention to help create Heaven on Earth through education and political action. We believe we can only have true life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when these unalienable rights are guaranteed by law for every person on Earth.