Gloria Nieto

Marriage Equality and Sept 11: The Connection You Might Have Missed

Filed By Gloria Nieto | September 13, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: 9/11, Alice Hoagland, Mark Bingham, September 11, United Flight 93, World Trade Center

Friday was a sad day in the annals of this country. Eight years ago we lost so many Americans which led to losing so many more Americans in a war started on lies, pomposity and subterfuge. Alice Hoagland.jpgI better be careful or Sarah Palin will start calling me out on her Facebook page. I'm white with fear.

On November 4, 2008, 16,000 people went into legal limbo because we had gotten married before the California Supreme Court said we could stay married but no one else could join our country club.

These two moments in history are related because of Alice Hoagland.

We met Alice the day she came to the rally in downtown San Jose the Saturday after the election. She was wearing a picture button of her son, Mark Bingham, a gay man who was on United Flight 93 which crashed in Pennsylvania. Alice took the mic that day and talked about her loss, our loss of a man named Mark who helped stop that flight from crashing into the White House or the Capitol.

Alice is an amazing woman, exactly the kind of mom we all have wanted at some time in our lives. She has thrown herself full bore into the causes Mark believed in - LGBT equal rights, air safety and rugby. Whenever we have meetings about events and planning, Alice is with us offering heartfelt, smart opinions.

She knows our history better than most people I know. She has brought her mother's heart to our battle and will not be silenced about her loss and our loss of Mark. Alice has been walking this path with us and offering her strength to get us through the losses and set backs.

The government sent her to Guantanamo to witness the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohamed. She described her trip as seeing the face of evil in front of her. Alice was quoted on the front page of the New York Times from her time in Guantanamo. She is no shrinking violet!

Friday was the anniversary of her loss. Our country's loss, the LGBT community's loss and a reminder that we can all be heroes when the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately, Mark's heroism cost him his life.

His mother carries on for him. Alice is a great woman, a true partner in the struggle for equality. I wish I had never met her and that her son was among us, living a fulfilled life. That wasn't Mark Bingham's story though. He gave us the gift of his mother instead.

I wish I had met Mark while he was among us. I am certainly grateful for his gift of Alice.

Please take a moment today and remember Mark and all the others who lives ended tragically. Please remember their families, the people who love them and the pain they have as a reminder of that dark day.

Please remember the bright lights that remain among us carrying their sorrow in so many hidden ways. Their pain is our pain; we remain a country wounded but still surviving.

Thank you Mark for your sacrifice. Thank you Alice for all you do and who you are to all of us.


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Hoagland's loss is a loss no one - friend, parent, co-worker, lover - should have to endure.

But I don't grasp the connections between marriage equality and September 11. First of all, I don't believe that marriage is or should be the goal for us. Even putting that aside, I don't see what you're saying here as anything but, frankly, a real stretch and an attempt to deploy some rather problematic nationalistic discourse in favour of gay marriage. It would be one thing if this piece highlighted Hoagland's willingness to stand in for her son and the general issues of gay "equality," (however troublingly vague that concept is) - the fact that she has in fact chosen to speak on behalf of gay issues is itself commendable.

But your piece is very deliberately titled "Marriage Equality and Sept 11: The Connection You Might Have Missed." How is this not a cheap ploy to further the marriage agenda by any means possible? At this point in time, gay marriage is clearly not the foremost agenda in the community; the last few months of debate and the tremendous economic inequality we face - an inequality that cannot be waved aside by marriage, despite what our "leaders" claim - have proven that. And too many of us have spent the last many years moving away from the kind of untroubled nationalism that emerged from that terrible moment. Those of us on the left who questioned that kind of nationalism and the specious rationale for war - and Guantanamo - still bear the metaphorical and sometimes literal wounds inflicted upon us for our questioning. This post papers over all of those details and presents a smoothed-out version of unquestioned history.

I didn't write the headline. This was intended as a simple story about a mother who lost a gay son and adopted the gay community.

I didn't say marriage was our only issue. Since I did not write the headline, take it up with the editors, especially if you think it is a cheap ploy.

If you want a different analysis to include all the elements of the aftermath of9/11 which include, torture, lies, the death of democracy as we know it, write it, no one here is stopping you. I am the last person who will be waving a flag for the tragedy on 9/11. But I will be offering comfort to my friend who suffered a loss that day.

Well, Gloria,

Since I've already addressed the fact that the headline and the politics therein are a cheap ploy, then it stands to reason that I've already addressed the editors, as it were. But, clearly, you'd like to distance yourself from the headline and that alone speaks volumes. Or, maybe not. I've written for Bilerico numerous times, and I've never had anyone actually choose a headline for me. Perhaps tweak one (and I only have the slightest memory of that ever happening), but not choose one from scratch. This alone should tell you how important headlines can be, yes?

I wasn't asking you to write a different post; I was simply pointing out the politics in the one you already wrote. I'll stand by the rest of my comment.


Kergan Edwards-Stout | September 14, 2009 12:35 AM

Having lost some dear friends in the second plane to hit the towers, along with their young son, I personally find it petty for someone to be bashing the author for disagreeing with the post heading... There are bigger issues to fight about. If anything, such an anniversary should be cause to celebrate our shared humaninty. In the meantime, read a great tribute to my friends who were lost at:

http://hammeringsparksfromtheanvil.blogspot.com/2006/09/in-honor-of-david-reed-gamboa.html

I have two observations, only mildly related to this post:

(1) There might be a connection between marriage rights and 9/11, but this post missed it: Was Mark Bingham partnered? If so, was his partner ever mentioned in all the news coverage? And if so, did Mark's spousal equivalent get considered for some of the monetary compensation that straight husbands and wives potentially received for the loss of their spouse?

I will only offer these questions, and leave them unanswered. Gloria, if you know Mrs. Hoagland, I expect she might be able to easily clarify this aspect of the story.

(2) It is clearly up to us, the GLBT community, to keep Mark Bingham's name and story alive. It appears to me that Mark Bingham's story is not often included in the 9/11 legacy resurrected each year by the mainstream media.

And I believe it is clear why it is not. LGBT people are not supposed to be allowed to be recognized as heroes. Start a legend about how a gay man led an attack on hijackers, or how LGBT's were soldiers who fought in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan --- or a gay man who cracked a critical secret German code during WW-II --- and all across America, right-wing parents will begin fearing that their children will get wrong ideas. The notion that the US Capitol Building, or the White House, or some other major DC monument, remains intact because of the courage of a gay man ... that's just too much for some people to admit.

Not to detract from an article with many points on which to comment, but...
I'm sure I do not know the "16,000 people...in limbo" number you state. I have only known of an 18,000 couples number(meaning 36,000 people).
Mumber minutia is important, yes?