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Great Gay Poets Friday! Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Editor’s Note:

This is the third post in honor of National Poetry Month, thanks to guest blogger Julia Garbowski, who conceived the idea and has done an excellent job sharing with us some of her favorites, including last week’s Oscar Wilde and Hart Crane, and in her first piece, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. This week, Julia looks at several poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

I try to imagine what it might have been like for a lesbian or bisexual woman in 1920 when Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote the poem Witch-Wife. I have the words in front of me to help me imagine, and the memory of my grandmother, who was born when Millay was 14 years old. From my grandmother I have stories she told me, this book of poems, I have a silver letter opener, a fur collar, teacups, a rolling pin, and a tasseled piano cover. Pictures of her and other family women are always in dresses, long coats, hats, carefully posed in a chair or standing in front of a house; –except for one, the one with my grandmother, wanting to be with the boys…in her overalls, with a leafy turnip her hand.

Witch-Wife

She is neither pink nor pale,

And she will never be all mine,

She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,

And her mouth on a valentine.

She has more hair than she needs,

In the sun ‘tis a woe to me!

And her voice is a string of colored beads,

Or steps leading into the sea.

She loves me all that she can,

And her ways to my ways resign;

But she was not made for any man,

And she will never be all mine.

Millay was born in the small Maine coastal town of Rockland. She asked to be called Vincent, and began writing poems in her teens. At 19, her long poem “Renascence” attracted a sponsor who paid for her to attend Vassar College. After college she moved to Greenwich Village to write. She was an active suffragist and was considered bisexual at the time; she married Eugen Jan Boissevain on the condition that they have an open marriage. She and her husband had relationships outside their marriage but remained devoted to each other for 27 years until they died within a year of each other, in 1949 and 1950. Millay’s relationships with women included a love affair with British actress Wynne Matthison.

Sonnet IV

I shall forget you presently, my dear,

So make the most of this, your little day,

Your little month, your little half a year,

Ere I forget, or die, or move away,

And we are done forever; by and by

I shall forget you, as I said, but now,

If you entreat me with your loveliest lie

I will protest you with my favorite vow.

I would indeed that love were longer-lived,

And vows were not so brittle as they are,

But so it is, and nature has contrived

To struggle on without a break thus far,

Whether or not we find what we are seeking

Is idle, biologically speaking.

Fellow writer and Greenwich Village resident Max Eastman wrote that “Vincent” replied to a NY doctor “Oh, you mean I am a homosexual! Of course I am, and heterosexual, too, but what has that got to do with my headache?”

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

It gives a lovely light!

In 1923 she became the first woman to win a Pulitzer in poetry for her poem “The Harp Weaver.” Her career had ups and downs and included somewhat of a decline in later years including a nervous breakdown in 1944. She was interested in politics, social injustices, and women’s rights. For more “Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St Vincent Millay” by Nancy Milford (Random House NY 2003); “The Poet and Her Book” by Jean Gould (Dodd, Mead 1969); “Restless Spirit: The Life of Edna St Vincent Millay” by Miriam Gurko (Crowell NY 1962).

City Trees

The trees along this city street,

Save for the traffic and the trains,

Would make a sound as thin and sweet

As trees in country lanes.

And people standing in their shade

Out of a shower, undoubtedly

Would hear such music as is made

Upon a country tree.

Oh, little leaves that are so dumb

Against the shrieking city air,

I watch you when the wind has come,

–I know what sound is there.

Julia Garbowski lives in Royal Oak, MI and has returned to writing after 25 years of running a farm and market in Door County WI. She grew up in Sag Harbor, NY. Her B.A. in Communications is from the University of Wisconsin. She belongs to the Michigan Literary Network and her twitter name is @driftnotes.

(Images: top: Emily Dickinson, bottom: Edna St. Vincent Millay)

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Marco Rubio Lashes Out Against Passage of Same-Sex Marriage Bill After His Attempt to Create Special Religious Rights Fails

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U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) lashed out with a Bible verse Wednesday morning, after the Senate passed legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriage, while rejecting his attempt to infuse special religious rights through an amendment that even some Republicans refused to support.

The Respect for Marriage Act, which passed in a 61-36 vote Tuesday evening, will return to the House for a final vote before heading to President Joe Biden, who promised to sign it into law. Not included in the bill the Senate passed is Senator Rubio’s amendment, which he claimed was necessary despite the clear religious protections included in the legislation.

The bill goes to great lengths to state it will have no impact on current religious liberty protections. Section 6 is actually titled, “No Impact on Religious Liberty and Conscience.”

READ MORE: Republican Attempts to Create Special Religious Rights Fail as Bipartisan Historic Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate

It states: “Nothing in this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to diminish or abrogate a religious liberty or conscience protection otherwise available to an individual or organization under the Constitution of the United States or Federal law.”

It goes even further.

“Consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution, nonprofit religious organizations, including churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, mission organizations, faith-based social agencies, religious educational institutions, and nonprofit entities whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion, and any employee of such an organization, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage,” it reads. “Any refusal under this subsection to provide such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges shall not create any civil claim or cause of action.”

READ MORE: Marco Rubio Recorded an ‘Emergency Video’ After Pete Buttigieg Responded to His Anti-LGBTQ Attack. It Didn’t Go Well.

Senator Rubio has been actively opposed to the bill from the start. In July he called it a “stupid waste of time,” suggesting he does not think the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the 2015 Obergefell ruling that made same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional – despite actively calling for the court to do so.

In addition to the video above, Florida Democrats this summer tweeted a video of a local news report showing Rubio preaching to campaign supporters that same-sex marriage is “sinful.”

Last week in a press release Sen. Rubio called the bill “the insanity,” and falsely claimed the Respect for Marriage Act does not have religious protections.

“This bill does not protect religious liberty,” Rubio said in a statement last week. “Nuns running orphanages will find themselves in court if it becomes law. That’s outrageous. No faith-based organization will be immune from the insanity. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Everyone. Removing this private right of action is the only way to truly protect people and organizations of faith.”

His amendment to create additional, special religious protections failed Tuesday evening, as did amendments from Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), and Senator James Lankford (R-OK).

READ MORE: ‘Punditry, Not Leadership’: McConnell Slammed for Refusing to Say if He Would Support Trump in 2024

Sen. Rubio, a frequently vocal opponent of LGBTQ people and their civil rights, has attacked people who opposed Florida Governor DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” legislation as “ridiculous.”

During his failed 2016 White House run Sen. Rubio repeatedly promised he would not run for re-election. He used the Pulse Massacre, one of the worst and deadliest anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, to declare that the LGBTQ community needed him and launched a re-election campaign on the back of those massacred LGBTQ people.

Rubio, who is known for posting passages from the Bible on many mornings, on Wednesday used Christian verse to lash out at the Respect for Marriage Act.

“The law of the LORD is perfect,refreshing the soul. The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,giving wisdom to the simple,” he tweeted.

His tweet did not go over well. While some responded with a simple, “Amen,” others explained to the Senator who took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” that the Christian Bible is not the law of the land.

“The ‘law of the lord’ was deliberately excluded from the US Constitution,” wrote one social media user. “There is only one law in the US and it’s not the law of the lord, it’s the law of the people.”

READ MORE: RNC Taps Right Wing Extremists to Head Group Designed to Expand GOP Appeal in Wake of Midterm Losses

History professor and author Douglas M. Charles noted Rubio’s tweet had a small typo, and accused him of having a staffer do his work.

“More empty-suitness from the epitome of empty suit senators,” Charles wrote. “These copy-paste BS tweets of his always have a spacing typo, which is how you know a staffer copy-pasted it rather than his being serious about it.”

 

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News

Five Engines of Secret Service Rental Vehicles for the President’s Thanksgiving Break Catch Fire

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The Nantucket Current reported that five of the vehicles rented by the U.S. Secret Service caught fire at the local airport during President Joe Biden’s Thanksgiving break. Biden’s family has met in Nantucket for Thanksgiving for decades but this is the first time a cache of vehicles looked like their engines exploded.

The report identified that the five vehicles were all different types, a Chevy Suburban, Ford Explorer, Infiniti QX80, Ford Expedition and Jeep Gladiator. The Ford Expedition did have a recall on it for the connections to the battery, indicating that fires have been caused by the problem. The car had not been taken in for repairs, sources told the Current. It’s unclear if that single car caused the fire or if each of the cars simultaneously caught fire.

The front of the white Ford Expedition and the one across from it looks to be considerably more damaged than the other cars.

“At approximately 5:22 am Airport shift staff observed an active fire in the rental car overflow area through the Airport’s Closed Circuit Television System,” the airport said in a statement. “Staff activated the Alert system and responded to the fire in Airport-3, where they were met by responding units from Nantucket Fire Department and Nantucket Police Department. Combined fire resources responded and contained the fire. Several vehicles were damaged. The Airport is currently coordinating with rental car agencies and agency partners to ensure scene safety. There is no longer an active fire at this time: the Airport is open, and aeronautical operations are not affected.”

See the video from the Current below:

 

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BREAKING NEWS

Republican Attempts to Create Special Religious Rights Fail as Bipartisan Historic Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate

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Far right activists and organizations for months have been falsely claiming legislation to protect same-sex marriages would destroy different-sex marriages and take away religious rights from ordinary Americans, but early Tuesday evening on a bipartisan basis the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, 61-36.

The legislation itself is very simple. It essentially leaves in place the status quo on marriage from the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell ruling. Should right wing Supreme Court justices strike that ruling down, the Respect for Marriage Act would require the federal government and states to recognize any marriages that were legal when they were entered, now and in the future.

35 states currently still have same-sex marriage bans on the books. If the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, many of those could become law immediately.

READ MORE: Franklin Graham’s Ugly Lie Ahead of Senate Vote on Same-Sex Marriage Bill

In order to overcome a Republican-led filibuster Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday agreed to allow three GOP Senators to offer amendments to the legislation, amendments that would have created special religious rights to discriminate.

An amendment from Senator James Lankford (R-OK) failed, as did one from Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT). 60 votes were needed for each.

Sen. Lee’s was seen by some as the most extreme, and was strongly supported by the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

READ MORE: 37 Senators Just Voted Against a Bill Protecting Same-Sex and Interracial Marriages. All Were Republicans.

Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts, in a false claim, had said: “The ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ contains so many infringements and encroachments on religious freedoms and on conscience that Republicans should unite solidly against it. Instead, it should be called the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act.'”

Far right evangelical activist Franklin Graham falsely claimed the “bill strikes a blow at religious freedom for individuals & ministries & is really the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act.'”

The Pennsylvania Family Council wrongly called it “a bill that would redefine marriage and attack religious freedom & Christian social services.”

But despite GOP fear-mongering, the legislation has religious protections built in, protections so strong 20 faith-based organizations including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church, have supported its passage.

The bill now heads back to the House for a final vote, and then to President Joe Biden, who has said he will sign it into law.

 

 

 

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