37 year old Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) is a long time lover of many. Having grown up with family acceptance and involvement in a "commune" and having been involved in two separate triad relationships and still forcing herself to committ to a monogomous (failed) marriage, Rhianon has finally begun to accept her own needs, wants and desires. Focusing on the communication and honesty necessary to navigate the shadows and the required humor needed when one begins to explore her deepest being; Rhianon Leto shares her experiences as she travels the many paths of self discovery. Come along and join Rhianon as she explores the whys, whos, wheres and politics of polylife.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

If you’re not scared, you’re not paying attention

So we are traveling along, minding our own business, really focused on our own journey and getting from point A to point B and we find ourselves suddenly aware of a danger that has been lurking but now is at the forefront of our conscious. Suddenly I know that I must pay more attention to this danger and I wonder how I have managed to ignore and “poo poo” it for as long as I have. It’s that time my friends, it’s an election year and if you aren’t scared, well then, like me… you aren’t paying attention.

I am generally not politically minded. I have come to realize though, with the issues that are facing America and affecting my family that I had better become politically minded, and quick. Like most people in America I am concerned about the economy, the on-going war that is eating through our children as if they are expendable, and most personally the government’s attempts to define Marriage.

This is an election year. There are people, with opinions and plans, that we will be choosing from very soon to run our country, and in choosing them we are supporting their opinions and plans. I think we need to know what those are, don’t you?

I have been doing a lot of research, and what I read does not reassure me, it frightens me. It has become important to me to share with all of you what I have found in my research. I am not going to defend any one presidential hopeful over another, nor do I intend to address any issue other than the one that would most affect each of us and that is the government’s efforts, or resistance as the case may be, in defining marriage. First a little bit of history, for those of us who have not been paying attention. Gay Marriage is illegal. Plural Marriage is illegal. There are multiple states in which “civil unions” have become legal but these still are only made available for “same-sex couples” – couples meaning two. A civil union is a legally recognized union similar to marriage.1 Civil Unions offer some of the same protections that are offered under the laws that define marriage but not all.

The first civil unions in the United States were offered by the state of Vermont in 2000. By the end of 2006, Connecticut and New Jersey had also enacted civil union laws; New Hampshire followed in 2007; furthermore, California's domestic partnership law had been expanded to the point that it became practically a civil union law, too. The same might be said from 2007 for domestic partnership in Maine, domestic partnerships in District of Columbia, domestic partnership in Washington, and domestic partnership in Oregon (delayed because of federal judges). In an effort to deny states the right to determine the definitions individually there have been several failed attempts by the federal government to legally define marriage as “one man and one woman.” However the federal government was able to pass the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996, so that other U.S. states are not obliged to recognize Civil Unions performed in other states nor is the federal governement allowed to recognize same sex marriage, civil union or polygomous marriage regardless of a state law.1.

This is a very “hot” issue right now among the candidates. Flip-flopping aside, I spent a significant amount of time trying to sort out, between parcel-tounge and political garble, what each of the most likely hopeful’s opinions on this particular issue really are. I am Repulican when it comes to economics and Democrat when it comes to Human Rights Issues, so this particular race is a difficult one for me. I am going to do my best to report my findings in a nutrual tone, any emotion or opinion come purely from the fact that I am personally in favor of consensual, adult love – in whatever form that it may come in. (I origanlly wrote that as being in favor of “love” and felt that I had to add the consensual, adult part…you will see what I mean if you keep reading.) Barack Obama (D) – Although Barack Obama has said that he supports civil unions, he is against gay marriage. In an interview with the Chicago Daily Tribune, Obama said, "I'm a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman."2.

Barack Obama did vote against a Federal Marriage Amendment and opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. "Giving them (persons in civil union) a set of basic rights would allow them to experience their relationship and live their lives in a way that doesn't cause discrimination," Obama said. "I think it is the right balance to strike in this society."

Hilary Clinton (D) – Putting aside her declarations of having an “open” marriage – whatever that means, she has stated that she favors “civil unions” but will only imply that she supports gay marriage. The closest she has come is when she spoke to a group from the Human Rights Campaign stating "I think that it should be in the political process and (if) people make a decision and if our governor and our legislature support [gay] marriage, I'm not going to be against that."

Currently Senator Clinton has stated support of gay adoption, domestic partner benefits, civil unions and abolishment of the “don’t ask don’t tell” military policy.

John Edwards (D) - Edwards believes that all couples in committed, long-term relationships should have the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities, whether they are straight couples or same-sex couples. He supports civil unions, including inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, equal pension and health care benefits, and all of the 1,100 other legal protections government affords married couples. Edwards supports the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and also believes same-sex families should be treated in the same manner as other families by our immigration laws. Gay marriage is an issue he feels internal conflict about and continues to struggle with it. However, Edwards believes the right president could lead the country toward consensus around equal rights and benefits for all couples in committed, long-term relationships and he opposes divisive Constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriages. "Most of the [other social issues] I don't have a lot of personal struggle with," he said. "I have a lot of personal struggle with this one.... It's very easy for me to say, civil unions? Yes. Partnership benefits? Yes.... It's a jump for me to get to gay marriage, and I haven't yet gotten across that bridge. But it is something I struggle with."3.

He told the Tucson Citizen in an interview published Dec. 29 that he believes the United States eventually will legalize "gay marriage." "As much as the social conservatives might not like to hear it, there will be a time when your grandchildren say: 'What was the argument with gay marriage? Who cares?'" he told the newspaper.

Rudy Giuliani (R) - Rudy Giuliani has stated support for civil unions, signed a generous domestic partnership bill as mayor, and famously lived with two gay men. However recently, “in a startling departure from his previously stated position on civil unions, Mayor Giuliani came out to The New York Sun yesterday evening in opposition to the civil union law just passed by the New Hampshire state Senate. "Mayor Giuliani believes marriage is between one man and one woman. Domestic partnerships are the appropriate way to ensure that people are treated fairly," the Giuliani campaign said in a written response to a question from the Sun. "In this specific case the law states same sex civil unions are the equivalent of marriage and recognizes same sex unions from outside states. This goes too far and Mayor Giuliani does not support it."4.

Mike Huckabee (R) – Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, strongly opposes Civil Unions and/or gay marriage. His strong statements have caused alarm among the gay and lesbian community. In an interview with the religious web site beliefnet.com, Huckabee pushes back on recent critics who have called some of his positions "radical."

"I think the radical view is to say that we're going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal," he said in the interview, published on the Web site Wednesday. "Again, once we change the definition, the door is open to change it again."

David Smith of the gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign told CNN that Huckabee is "equating a loving marriage between two people of the same sex with some form of bestiality. I think that's really out of the mainstream of American thought, and most people will find that offensive.”

Mitt Romney (R) – Mitt Romney opposes both civil unions and gay marriage but if he had to choose he would accept civil unions. His statements support that assertion. ''That benefits are given to married couples and not to singles or gay couples has nothing to do with discrimination; it has everything to do with building a stable new generation and nation."

Romney says he opposes gay marriage and civil unions for same-sex couples. Last year, however, he urged Republican lawmakers to support a proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that would ban gay marriage and legalize civil unions because, he says, he believed it was the only way to stop gay marriage. The Legislature supported that amendment and would need to pass it once more in order to place it on the ballot in November 2006. ''If the choice is between marriage and civil unions, I support civil unions. But my preference is neither civil unions nor marriage," Romney told reporters last night.5.

John McCain (R) – While John McCain does not support civil unions he also does not support the federal government being able to make amendments that would ban civil unions. His opposition has more to do with the sanctity of the constitution than with concerns about Human Rights however. In an argument addressed to the Senate, in 2004, regarding a constitutional amendment that would ban same sex marriages, McCain stated, "The constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans," McCain said. "It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them." He went on to argued that there are "far less draconian" remedies, including the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act -- which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as a union between a man and a woman and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states -- and state constitutional amendments limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

He said if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act or "state remedies to judicial activism fail," then amending the federal Constitution might be "appropriate."6.

In the end, whether you believe people should be allowed to marry whomever they choose, how ever many they choose or only one person of a different gender, it is easy to see that there are a wide variety of opinions to choose from. It has been hard for me and I have spent many hours watching debates and trying to judge sincerity for each of these candidates. I cannot tell you what to believe or who to vote for. The little information I offer is only a beginning of the wealth of information and propaganda that is out there and I would encourage you to do some checking for yourself.

My information was found using the following searches; “candidates name” + “gay marriage”, “history of civil union”, “presidential candidate information 2008”. If not otherwise quoted, my information came from the following websites;


When I begin looking for a candidate that meets all of my needs; economic, homeland security and respect for my own personal family choices, I can only shiver and move ahead – telling everyone around me to look out and be aware. And I can only assume, if you aren’t scared, you are not paying attention.

1.According to Wikipedia

Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) ; January 27, 2008


folks have read this article.