Author Archives: chwala

Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, overturn of Prop. 8 upheld

Jun 26, 2013, 10:23am EDT Updated: Jun 26, 2013, 11:23am EDT ~  

The U.S. Supreme Court today gave same-sex marriage supporters a pair of victories, starting with the ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.The court also cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California. It left a lower-court ruling overturning Proposition 8 — a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage — stand, but it declined to rule on the broader question of whether gay couples have a Constitutional right to marry.The 5-4 ruling on the DOMA case means same-sex couples who are married are entitled to the same benefits under federal as heterosexual couples. Previously, the federal law denied federal benefits, such as filing joint tax returns and receiving Social Security survivor benefits, to same-sex couples who marry in states where gay marriage is legal. “DOMA’s unconstitutional – we’re all Americans today,” said Ben Takai, a Washington, D.C., resident who was among the hundreds of people gathered outside the court waiting for the rulings. California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, was passed by voters in 2008 in response to a state Supreme Court decision that had legalized same-sex marriage. Two gay couples then filed a lawsuit, contending Proposition 8 denied them their 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection under the law.


Diving into the Wreck

Our Reading on “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic” made me think of the poem by Adrienne Rich today, “Diving into the Wreck.” Although the article’s complexities of identity are far more intersectional than her poem, I thought it worth posting here because of all of the watery imagery and the temporal moments of re(memory) it seems to surface (at least for myself):

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.