Proposition H8: An Open Letter to Andy Pugno

Andrew Pugno,  serves as the Chief Legal Counsel for which spearheads the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.

Mr. Pugno ~

Proposition 8Erika Napoletano here – no relation to Janet or the other plethora of political Napoletanos running around out there. See, I got the name in the divorce. (Yes, the D-Word.) It was fancy, had a ring to it. While I didn’t want the relationship that went with the ring, I kept the snazzy name. I can already tell I’m your worst nightmare. I build broken homes.

I’ve been following your shenanigans for a while now and I have to say that I’m disappointed you played the “for the children” card. While I’m legally twenty years past being included with the children, I can remember what it was like growing up in a home with heterosexual parents.

They were divorced. Damn them and their selfishness, refusing to stay together for the children. My mother worked and went to school, my dad held a civil engineering job. My brother, sister and I were latchkey kids, microwaving after school snacks and learning to cook on nights mom got home late. We spent every other weekend at Dad’s, playing with model trains and running around his tiny little apartment until he told us to simmer down since people lived below him. Christ – kids really can’t run quietly. It was a bit of a buzzkill, but hey – those were the rules.

I’m not going to give you a story about wanting love, needing love or yearning for an intact household that my parents, who couldn’t find a way to live together, so unjustly deprived us. My brother, sister and I all graduated Summa Cum Laude from Nimitz High School in Houston, Texas (with little sis eeking out a class rank of 7th ahead of my brother’s and my kindred score of 9th in our class years…the pipsqueak) and equal honors from college. I went off to college on a full scholarship. My brother is currently pursing his Masters in Psychology and my sister a Masters in Library Science (in addition to being an ordained Lutheran Children’s Minister). They’re awesome kids – people I’m proud to call my brother and sister.

And my parents – my divorced parents – are pretty damn awesome as well.

See, children don’t need an intact, heterosexual household to succeed. They need love. Fellow blogger Sinclair Sexsmith (@MrSexsmith) took the words right out of my mouth when she so eloquently said:

“Children are best raised by folks who love them, care for them, provide their basic needs, nurture their creativity and strength, support them and believe in them. Though there is one dominant narrative for how families “should” look – the nuclear two-parent heterosexual household – there have been plenty of studies supporting family units that look different from that are just as valuable for the child. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, step-parents, foster parents – the structure doesn’t matter so much as the content.”

Content, my dear Mr. Pugno. Not context.

If I had been raised in the context of heterosexual parents who so obviously despised one another, who would I be today? Would I be an outspoken social media consultant and blogger-for-hire…write a weekly column for a website about sex toys and exploring sexuality…climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro…discovered a love for cycling…be wrapped in the daily embrace of friendships I’m proud to have earned and am learning to nurture more and more each day.

Would I?

My parents, heterosexual in their own right, gave me love and support as they knew how. The context of a single parent home gave me the opportunity to become self-sufficient and embrace the fact I had two parents who loved me – they just lived in different places. The content? Love. Love, love, love.

Mr. Pugno, Fuck You

But Mr. Pugno – fuck you and every one of your Protect Marriage supporters for saying that my childhood is worth less because I didn’t come from an intact heterosexual home. And double fuck you for condemning those who choose to live a life that doesn’t fit your “ideal” of a “marriage.”

I’m twice-divorced. Why? Well, it’s not because I’m a lesbian or that I don’t believe in marriage. I’m a die-hard romantic, believing strongly that, as the person I’ve come to be, I have a better set of tools today to build a successful marriage than I did when I was young, ignorant and stupid and decided to walk down the aisle with two men I truly loved and initiate unions that would ultimately not last.

Marriage didn’t fail me: it was the failure of the human relationship.

What you’re telling me is that a heterosexual relationship has more value than a same-sex relationship. That one version of love is more important than another. Actually, I’m willing to entertain that notion, but here’s the rub:

A Challenge

If you can tell me that heterosexual couples are able to feel and live with love more deeply than two people of the same sex (and substantiate your case) – I’ll suck your dick on national television. Now, before you get all hot about the blowjob, I get to counter you arguments. I will introduce you to Amy and Cindiman, Cheryl and Kate, Elisa and Megan. These are six women I’m very lucky to have in my life – and they’re lesbians.

And they all visibly experience a love for their partners – their wives, if you will – that makes my heart skip a beat each time I see them. And once you meet these beautiful women, then we’ll go on a field trip to Walmart. There, I’ll show you some really awesome heterosexual couples with children. If we’re lucky, we’ll get some, Shut the fuck ups and I’m gonna beat yer asses while we’re there.

It’s the Content, Not the Context

Then I’ll take you to an egg donor agency (Gifted Journeys in Studio City, CA), one run by my best friend, who actively and openly works with same-sex couples. See, they’re in the Building a Family business. On a daily basis, they see people who want children more than many people who end up with them the old fashioned way. Many of their recipient parents are gay, lesbian or transgendered. They understand that it is the content of the family, not the context, which creates supportive and loving households. For the children.

The Facts

I was fortunate enough to be provided a link by a social media acquaintance and (gasp) lesbian Mari Kurisato. It’s a pretty kickass study performed by the Australian Psychological Society (2007). Not only does it indicate that same-sex parenting relationships typically share the child-rearing burden more evenly, but that even gay male couples exhibit more active parenting roles than their heterosexual counterparts. (Wanna dig, Pugno? It’s on pages 17 and 18 of the study. Though since the study is all “gay,” I’m sure you wouldn’t dare bring it up in a browser window for fear of your computer catching the Gay Virus.)

Heather Cornwell was also gracious enough to share with me her thoughts on the beauty of an intact heterosexual home: she’s the product of one.

“Regarding the argument that children are best served by an intact male/female marriage, I would just point out that environment is only a partial determiner in the outcome of a childhood.  If we extrapolate that theory, then I should be a perfectly balanced, straight, Christian female.  Instead, I am a balanced, gay, agnostic female. My parents are still married, and demonstrated a great deal of affection towards each other, and to my siblings and myself.  I am a happy lesbian, my sister is a single, divorced mother and my brother is a single, divorced father.  Whether or not my parents were in an intact heterosexual relationship had little to no bearing on how my siblings and I have developed into adults.”

Your organization purports the following:

“Traditional marriage is the foundation of society and has served our state well for centuries. California’s constitutional marriage amendment exists to strengthen society, encourage monogamous and loving marriages and to provide the optimal environment to ensure the well being of children.”

Ensure the well-being of children. How noble. I’ll start heading towards a close with some interesting examples, all of which blow your reasoning more effectively than a $20 hooker:

  • Edward Albee (gay) – Adopted by a heterosexual couple. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (and one of my professors in college)

  • Patricia Cornwell (bisexual) – Product of a broken home, adopted. Best-selling author and former Medical Examiner for the State of Virginia.

  • Truman Capote (gay) – Abandoned by his parents (along with the rest of his siblings). Literary icon.

  • Dalai Lamas (celibate) – Once recognized, boys are removed from the home of their birth parents to be trained for their future station. While they do not lose contact with their birth family, they are not raised by them.

  • President Barack Obama (married, heterosexual) – Parents divorced when he was two. Last I checked, he holds the highest political office in the United States (much to your chagrin, I’m sure).

  • Menendez Brother (killed their parents) – heterosexual married parents.

  • John Wayne Gacy (serial killer) – heterosexual married parents.

Your rules fail you, Mr. Pugno. If heterosexuality is the stepping stone to familial and developmental perfection, you need to get to work on doctoring the history books ASAP.

Legislating Morality Makes Me Queasy

Mr. Pugno, the thought that your group of a mere 100-some-odd thousand folks who feel that they can drive to legislate morality makes me queasy. Considering the pro-Proposition 8 campaign raised $39.9 million in 2008 and continues to spend taxpayer dollars by tying up the court system tells me that there are a lot of people, while entitled to their beliefs, aren’t secure in them enough to nose the everloving fuck out of everyone else’s business and tend to their own families. And Heather, whom we met earlier, backs that up:

“In my opinion, this country was founded on NOT allowing the government to make our choices for us. Granted, the pilgrims were fleeing religious oppression, but I think that any oppression goes against the founding principles of our nation. If I choose to marry my partner, have children or not have children, the government should not be given a say in that decision. More to the point, the government should not DEMAND a say in that decision.”

The way I see it is this: you’re telling me there was almost $40 million available (in addition to the $43 million raised by anti-Prop 8 forces in 2008) in our economy to support the persecution people for being who they are instead of helping people become who they want to be? I’m speechless. And I’m sure the State of California, in its dismal financial state, is appalled as well. We’re a country that sings the hymn of human potential yet you fail to realize that this song is comprised of varying voices.

Stay the Fuck Out Of My Bedroom

In closing, I don’t think everything you and Protect Marriage are doing is bad. You’ve done one amazing thing that few others have been able to achieve: showing the world what is possible when an overzealous herd gets a little cash and begins substituting the word “government” for “religion.” I’m not on board with that. I’ll kindly have the government stay out of my bedroom, out of my vagina and out of the affairs of people with whom you wouldn’t deign to share a dinner table. “The children,” as you say, need protecting from people and organizations like you and yours, not from same-sex couples. Close-mindedness is a blight on the development of mankind. And the children – the future of this nation, the reminder that anything is possible and the glimmer of hope that winks over the horizon with each sunrise and sunset we’re blessed with witnessing.


Erika Napoletano aka @DearRedhead/@RedheadWriting
Writer, Disruptive Presence, Devil’s Advocate…

PS: the offer for the blowjob still stands. Line up your case studies and I’ll line-up mine. If it’s a tie, we’ll have a kiss-off to determine the winner.

End note: The Executive Board of The American Anthropological Association, the world’s largest organization of anthropologists, released the following statement on February 26, 2004 in response to President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as a threat to civilization:

“The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.

The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.”

Yeah. Suck it.

Special thanks to the following people who shared their insights with me:

Sinclair Sexsmith (Sugarbutch Chronicles and Radical Masculinity)

Natalie Hjelsvold

Heather Cornwell

Mari Kurisato



  1. Moi

    Wow, what a bitter bitch. Perfect case for why an intact hetero family is necessary — if you don't, your daughter could end up on a sex-toy-and-lube site, spouting bitter hate about how no one can tell HER what to do, yadda yadda…

  2. Dear Redhead

    @JoPo – grab a sense of humor. Take two, call me in the morning. And there’s no anger – I have a zero-tolerance policy for bullshit and Prop 8 is total bullshit. Calling BS on something is not “anger.” Perhaps YOU meant to use another word? And I shop at Walmart on occasion, while I abhor the company and everything it stands for. #hattip, good day.

    @schmutzie – and thank you 🙂 you’re a gem and I appreciate you sharing the post with your community!

  3. MamasRockin

    “If you can tell me that heterosexual couples are able to feel and live with love more deeply than two people of the same sex (and substantiate your case) – I’ll suck your dick on national television. ” ROFLMFAO!!!! LOVE IT!

    Short and sweet, this is all such BULLSHIT. Love is Love, it is a gift no matter who you find it with. And a child raised in a home with love will be a healthy happy child regardless of whether his/her parents are M/F F/F or M/M! The whole thing is just bullshit….that’s my two cents.

  4. JoPo

    While I agree with your anger and the reason for this letter, I have to point out the classist nature of your comments about Wal-Mart. Your statement implies that families forced to shop on a budget are more likely to be dysfunctional and abusive. Maybe that’s not what you meant. Maybe you had in mind another characterization of Wal-Mart shoppers (rural? uneducated?). Either way, it’s unfair to make broad generalizations about whatever group you think you would encounter on your field trip. There are bad parents everywhere, it’s a serious problem, and classist stereotypes shouldn’t be reinforced.

  5. Katie (aka Kekibird)

    Loved this….it touched me, a single mother who chose NOT to get married because I knew my single mother household would be better for my son rather than a two parent household that was only for show. Only being together because that’s what is the norm is not ok. Doing what is best for the children is #1. So why would my household be less? We have love…we have rules…we have fun, too. And we’re doing it our way, which is right for us. And if a same-sex couple wants a family to love and cherish, nothing should stop them.

  6. Dear Redhead

    Holy shit – Wade is writing next week’s column! 😉

    Thanks for stopping by, Wade. Your viewpoint and substantiation is appreciated.

  7. Wade macMorrighan

    RE: Mr. Pugno’s exacerbating and unfounded allegations that, “Traditional marriage is the foundation of society and has served our state well for centuries.”, I point you, sir, in the direction of the historical, anthropological, and ethnographic record which you, NOM, Republicans, and Conservatives of all stripes have been consistently ignoring, rejecting, and denying:

    I am well aware of the work of openly Gay Anthropologist, Will Roscoe, on the Native American homosexual male tribes members who were believed to be natural-born shamans as a result (like almost every ancient culture in fact, for they revered us!), as well as the fact that they were highly regarded and deeply sought after by other men has spouses. It was, I believe (as with almost every culture) that the Christian missionaries and post-Colonial America subjected the native peoples and had a devastating impact upon their reverence for the Queer. (Incidentally, there was a new–never-before-seen tribe discovered in the Amazon a few years ago; the country mandated a very strict law prohibiting westerners/ modern South Americans/ and especially missionaries from corrupting their indigenous culture. ‘Course, guess what happened? The Evangelical Christians pitched a *FIT* and attempted to get a legal exemption based on religious grounds to “mission” to these “primitives”. Their recourse failed–and it is worth noting that the Missionary is the BANE of the Anthropologist at destroying native cultures! And, they are absolutely unapologetic for that CRIME!) In Roscoe’s most recent book–“Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-Sex Love”–he details the Asiatic shamanic tribes people known as the Chuckchi (or Chuckchee), whose homosexual shamans are known in our tongue as “soft men” and, like the Native American pre-Colonial cultures (for NA’s have come to despise homosexuality, *now*) these specific shamans were believed to be naturally-born shamans and were deeply sought after by other men as a spouse! “Marriage is the union of a man and a woman” my foot! You, Pugno (and NOM, and whomever else) apparently have an obvious distaste for the historical record other than your Bible (which this Witch finds more than a little offensive)!

    There is also evidence amid my Celtic ancestors from a Greek historian who walked among them in Gaul (ancient France and western Germany) that they seem to have preferred homosexual relationships, or thought it was considered offensive to refuse the offer of Queer bed-hopping. But, love and sex in antiquity was far more of an open category than the puritanical vision that Mr. Pugno pines for (indeed, it is even so in modern-day Europe where they don’t have the hang-ups that we insularized Americans do)! Even the medieval Irish Brehon laws suggest that two males could legally marry within that Celtic context. There is also the late openly Gay historian of Harvard, Prof. John Boswell, who has shown throughout his work that the medieval Catholic Church has, albeit rarely, solemnized over the marriage between two men; and that the word “Gay” in reference to a class/ minority of homosexuals can be traced clear back to the medieval or Renaissance periods. Although, I have heard a rumor about the later fall-out of Prof. Boswell’s work (unless I’m confusing him for some other historian), who received special permission from the Vatican to use its archives for his research based upon his reputation as a BRILLIANT scholar and Prof. of History at Harvard. However, again as I have *heard*, after Prof. Boswell’s materials on the antiquity of homosexuality as a community and our tolerance up until the 14th. Century when we were culturally vilified (even burned as heretics and Witches during the latter Inquisition!), those original source materials which he translated and cited within his texts from the Vatican immediately vanished from the archives!

    Prof. Boswell also commented upon the fact that we live in a society with religiously-imposed heterosexuality (which, obviously, can be psychologically scarring for Gay kids!).

    According to the Defense’s own witness, Dr. Nathenson, the American Anthropological Association supports Gay marriage on culturally relevant grounds. So, I went snooping and found this wonderfully-written policy statement by the AAA (which ol Mags Gallagher would probably find some anti-Christian fault with): . There’s also this fascinating article by one Adrian Brune, who cites the AAA’s position, called “Anthropologists Debunk ‘Traditional Marriage’ Claim” (don’t be put off by the website; it’s mission is actually to end the harm caused by religious-based bigotry!): . I, for one, am so frakking *tired* to watching NOM, Republicans and Conservatives flooding the air-waves (and fallaciously-biased e-mails)–MISREPRESENTING the historical and ethnographic record–and state that “marriage has always been one man and one woman for thousands and thousands of years”! That’s offensive, and an out-right LIE! How do you reconcile the testimony of Dr. Young (another religious Prop 8 witness) who testified in her deposition, under oath in the US of A that, “Just because something is a ‘norm’, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s an appropriate ‘norm’. It has to then be reassessed within the contemporary context to *see* if there are good reasons *why* that ‘norm’ should remain.” So much for “Traditional marriage”, ‘eh?

    Hmmm…I’m surprised that Mags hasn’t, yet, tried to state that there never were any culturally sanctioned marriages between two men or two women forever and always, in every culture on the entire planet! That presumes that one thinks that Maggie is making a researched opinion; but I, and many other historians and scholars know better! I just wish that the general public were being made aware of these FACTS from Anthropological and little-known historical sources as I have briefly outlined above. *sigh*

    This beautiful work by scholars is so moving and powerful for me as a Gay man, because it shows that, despite many modern Christians (who like to claim that we did not HAVE a history until the 1970s!), we do, in fact, have an ancient and POWERFUL pedigree!

    Anyone interested in reading more about our ancient pedigree (which I recommend) should pick up a copy of the following books:

    * Cassell’s Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit (a BRILLIANT starter!)
    * Queer Spirits: A Gay Men’s Myth Book, ed. and comp. by Will Roscoe
    * Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds, by Judy Grahn
    * Blossom of Bone: Reclaiming the Connection Between Homoeroticism and the Sacred, by Randy P. Conner
    * Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture, by Arthur Evans
    * Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods, by Ronald Long
    * The Zuni Man-Woman, by Will Roscoe
    * Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-Sex Love, by Will Roscoe
    * Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe
    * Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century

    NB: Prof. Boswell says “Christian Era” in his sub-title; however, academia has been making headway in respect for others’ religions by abstaining from the use of “BC” (Before Christ) and AD (Latin abrev. for “After the Year of Our Lord”), and instead have been using BCE (Before Common Era”) and CE (Common Era) though other non-Christian motivated abbreviations have also been used by scholars in recent years.

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