Tag Archives: supreme court

A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH

Six Weeks in Nevada Divorce CourtsI was once sued by the Town of Huntington, NY for 7 million dollars, plus interest since 1797, and a sentence of one year in jail for refusing to surrender documents to the town historian, Rufus B. Langhams, who alleged, under oath, had been stolen from the Town by a colonial-era employee and kept hidden by his ancestors for 195 years until I was consigned to auction the papers off along with the contents of the family estate.

Prior to the lawsuit being heard before New York State Supreme Court Justice William L. Underwood, Jr., I was vilified in print by The Long Islander and Newsday, shunned by former friends, slandered by candidates and their political operatives, chastised by churchgoers, and kept under surveillance for nearly a year — only to be threatened by an assistant town attorney hiding in the bushes of my front yard after midnight, incessantly meowing until I ventured out, then backing me up against my front door while brandishing a knife-like object in order to serve me with court papers.

I share this to demonstrate my profound respect for Christine Blasey Ford’s anticipated testimony before Congress pertaining to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.

She is courageous.

Few can imagine the resolve it takes to risk one’s life and livelihood in order to ensure justice be done on behalf of the majority who will not seek it for themselves, nor for the benefit of another, nor for the good of a nation — because the fear of retribution makes stepping up perilous.

I suspect Ford does not want to testify. But as a competent citizen with a conscience compelling her to intervene, she knows her freedom of speech is denied the moment she chooses to silence herself, and — like all rights guaranteed by our constitution — free speech was granted as an individual’s responsibility to protect.

It is not an entitlement.

The fact that her testimony involves exposing intimacies secreted by shame engineered by patriarchal societies to silence women for centuries makes her testimony all the more ominous — and her decision to testify all the more valiant.

Our demand for her to be heard should be deafening.

Our cry should be, “Can you hear us, now?”
~

They sent three lawyers with the Huntington town historian to admonish me for costing the taxpayers nearly a million dollars to wage a year long war against me, arguing the merits of their action of replevin. They called for my incarceration, demanded to be rewarded all the original Town documents in my possession, urged that I be fined, and asked that I be assigned all legal fees and court costs.

I stood alone, without consul, in Propria Persona, as evidence of my innocence.

I presented a book on special loan to me from the reference section of the Huntington Public Library, authored by Rufus Langhams. Published a decade earlier, it contained photographs of every document I harbored that he’d sworn had been stolen during colonial times, with captions confirming the originals were in his possession, kept locked in the archives of the Huntington Historical Society, to which he had sole access.

I presented letters from several museums attesting to many of those same original documents being sold to them by Rufus Langhams, while acting in the capacity of town historian as directed by the Town of Huntington.

I listed names, addresses and phone numbers of other Town residents who were coerced into surrendering copies of inherited documents to Rufus Langhams when he showed up at their homes and demanded them, citing the New York State Property Tort of Replevin as his legal right to confiscate heirlooms.

I contended the documents I held were copies from 195 years passed, not the originals of documents that Langhams sold to profit himself over his many years of incumbency as the Town of Huntington historian.

Supreme Court Justice William L. Underwood, Jr. immediately dismissed the charges against me, with prejudice, thereby barring the Town from ever bringing an action against me on the claim again, and granted me sole property rights, before assigning all expenses incurred, court costs and attorney fees to the Town.

I was then excused. The town historian and three town attorneys were ordered to stay.

~

Newsday and The Long Islander never published a retraction, nor did they do a follow up story.

There was no public acknowledgement of wrongdoing by the town historian. The spurious charges in the action lodged against me were never revealed. There was no further discussion of the papers in question.

I was never offered an apology.

Eventually, a friend within Town government told me that, in lieu of no one else wanting the job, Rufus Langhams would remain as town historian, but would no longer be trusted with unaccompanied access to historic documents, and a full accounting of the archives had been ordered.

Eight years later, the town historian died of a heart attack. His obituary read, in part: “Rufus Buford Langhams of Huntington, L.I., once went to England seeking to collect $15,000 in Revolutionary War debts from the British Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was not successful.”

~

I was once a force to be reckoned with.

Christine Blasey Ford is one.

Shouldn’t we all be?

# # #

 

Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist, author, and animal rescue activist.

Find her on Amazon. Friend her on Facebook. Follow her @ margueritequantaine.com.

A Force To Be Reckoned With © 9.22.18
.

I value your opinion and appreciate you for sharing this essay with others.


Please select LEAVE A REPLY by clicking below the headline
 to express your thoughts on this essay. 
I’m all eyes and heart.

DIVIDED WE (STILL) STAND

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Gays are scary people.

Not the gay next door who provides for his parents and carpools his nieces to day care. Or the fellow who fixes my car. Or the lady who cuts my hair.

It’s only the media-hyped homosexual that makes me cringe and withdraw. Those clusters of erotic exhibitionists captured on camera for our viewing displeasure. Scurrilous straights cause me discomfort. But vulgar gays make me ashamed.

Harvey Fierstein has expressed impatience with people like me. He once called us “leeches” sitting silent on the sidelines while proud gays pave the way to equal rights for the majority of us “slackers.”

I like Harvey a lot. I admire and respect him for his courage and integrity. I think he’s a superb actor and writer and a fine role model. He gives gays spirit.

But I don’t think he understands that most gays don’t want to be enslaved by the duplicities of straight society. We don’t want to clone our ethics, or edit our emotions, or conform our lives to any corrupted concept of happily ever after.

If I could sit down with Harvey Fierstein, I’d tell him I’ve been hopelessly in love with the same woman for 43 years. But we won’t wed, not even though we work to support those who choose to. Not even if the Supreme Court makes marriage rights a reality.

Because, for most of my generation, love is our legacy. Not marriage. We aren’t joined by dowry, arrangement, prestige, or necessity. We aren’t bound by license, law, or nuptial contract. We don’t stay together for the sake of religion, parents, children, social stigma, economics, or expediency.

We’re connected only by love. Since time began, it’s has been the code of our culture. And, since love is holy, what we have is sacred.

So, I’d assure Harvey that – even though the alleged “gay agenda” seeks to stir us into the debauchery of that marriage melting pot – wedlock isn’t the priority of our majority.

It isn’t even our dream. Our culture is just more valuable, valiant, imaginative, romantic and hopeful than that.

I’d tell Harvey we dream of the day when gay men, who have the highest rate of disposable income in America, stop wasting their resources on purchasing the promise of eternal youth and utilize it to create safe havens in the heartland instead.

We imagine gay doctors, nurses, therapists and health care officials joining forces to build medical centers. Gay lawyers combining talents to establish legal firms. Gay singers and comedians backing gay-owned-and-operated restaurants and nightclubs. Gay athletes creating gay health complexes. Gay financiers building banks. Gay actors starting theaters. Gay educators forming charter schools. Gay religious leaders developing denominations that embrace gay people by interpreting ancient text in the spirit of divine law.

Our desire is to cultivate our culture, not to abolish it.

To elevate, not to assimilate.

To create, not to copy.

To lead, not to follow.

To record our history, not to erase it.

I’d question Harvey as to the purpose of new laws, when the constitutional law of equality has not yet been upheld for all Americans – guaranteeing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable.

I’d wonder aloud why we continue to chase after a society that doesn’t rise to the talent and tenderness of our own.

Why we insist on being accepted by those who haven’t earned our respect.

Why the blessing of love isn’t regarded as its own reward.

And why we must diminish the sanctity of ourselves by kowtowing to those who quietly curse us.

Finally, I’d extend my arms in friendship to Harvey Fierstein, asking his pardon on behalf of all (perceived) leeches marching proudly, quietly, differently, but wholeheartedly beside him.

Because I think he understands we hold these truths to be self-evident:

That cowards follow the crowd.

That courage follows the heart.

That virtue makes equality inevitable.

And, that straights are scary people – too.

# # # #

This freshly edited, updated essay by Marguerite Quantaine first appeared in the St. Petersburg Times nine years ago. (Copyright by Quantaine © 2004 • 2013)

Please select REPLY to share your thoughts on love, marriage, and equality here.

I’m all eyes and heart.

THE TELLTALE HEART

Publicly, Thomas Jefferson believed in the principles of freedom. But privately, he grappled over whether the worst white man was still better than the best black man.

Ultimately, Jefferson’s failure to champion equality left his own illegitimate child enslaved, opening the wound which has since defined – not the competency of his mind – but the capacity of his heart.

We are once again at a crossroads governing the use of fine print to qualify equality.

But this time, the Jeffersonian paradox challenges whether we, as a nation, believe the worst heterosexual is still better than the best homosexual.

Because all the worst heterosexuals can marry anywhere in America. But even the best homosexuals cannot.

As the high court strips away all righteous rhetoric and political posturing, it’s possible they’ll recognize a raw reality, i.e., even when heterosexuals commit the most heinous crimes (murder, rape, child molestation, spousal abuse, terrorism, treason, and crimes against humanity), their known deviant behaviors are ignored by American marriage laws.

However, even when homosexuals are model citizens, their single, aberrant activity is prepossessed.

The court must then question whether this speaks to the heart of who we truly are, regardless of what we profess ourselves to be.

On the one hand, we insist the purpose of marriage is a belief in the sanctity of family.

On the other, we ignore the fact that millions of felons sitting in high security prisons are predominately heterosexuals possessing marginal moral character at best. 

Yet each has a right to marry.

In some sit the suspects and convicts held for complicity in the 9/11 and Boston marathon attacks. And even they have the legal right to marry in every state.

But Lily Tomlin doesn’t.

Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, David Berkowitz, the Menendez brothers, Theodore Kaczynski, James Eagan Holmes and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can.

But Ellen DeGeneres can’t.

The former, loathsome, dictator Saddam Hussein, terrorist leader Osama Bin Ladin, and even Chancellor Adolf Hitler could have.

But Kate Smith, an American icon of our anthem, God Bless America, could not.

If the court entertains the position that “sin” is the foundation on which law is defined, will it validate the proponent “hate the sin, not the sinner” premise?

Can it then ignore evidence that it isn’t “sin” being shunned, profiled, attacked, ridiculed, denied equal rights and murdered? 

Only American citizens are.

Will the court ask why there are no marches planned, political wars being waged, or state constitutional amendments being drafted against the seven deadly sins? Will it demand to know why it’s only a singular, Bible referenced, declared abomination being targeted? And, if it’s determined the sin/sinner assertion is an inflamed edict, could it set precedence for other inflamed edicts as just-cause to alter constitutional law? 

Should the court recognize the Ten Commandments governing the worship of other Gods, building graven images, working on the Sabbath, blasphemy, dishonoring parents, murder, adultery, stealing, coveting, and bearing false witness as written-in-stone, will it be compelled to admit that being gay is not?

Politicians and pundits insist same-sex marriage is un-American, implying we can’t remain “America The Beautiful” if we allow marriage to be maligned. They contend – like that esteemed song – the institution of marriage has been declared our national heritage and pride.

But only the Supreme Court can decide which American citizens qualify as entitled to inalienable rights, and which (regardless of their American birthright and exemplary character) do not.

Before then, the justices may be forced to reflect on citizens like Katherine Lee Bates, a woman who spent 25 years in love with another woman and her entire life as one of America’s finest homosexuals. Who felt, authored, and gifted our nation with those cherished words, “And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”

History is upon us. 

Come June, America as we know it will be forever changed. 

The Supreme Court will decide it’s time we stopped cherishing a broken institution that denies equality to our totality and, in so ruling, bind us by law to cherish each other, instead.

Or, it will not.

#    #    #   

This freshly edited, updated essay was first published in 2004 to benefit L.I. Pride. Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine © 2004 & 2013.

What’s your stand the issue of equality? How will the Supreme Court decision on DOMA affect you, personally? 

Please share your thoughts, here, by selecting REPLY.

I’m all eyes and heart.

–  –  –  –

A CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION

B1

The preliminary police report rendered me dead upon impact.

A drunk driving a Marathon cab fitted with an extended, reinforced steel bumper had broadsided us. He was clocking up to 70 in a 30-mph zone when he ran a red light and collided with the VW Bug I was easing into a parking spot as Liz sat next to me in the suicide seat.

The impact was ferocious. While peripheral vision allowed me a glimpse of my killer, there was no other warning. No screeching of brakes. No screaming of pedestrians. No sense of impending doom. Just a mild feeling of astonishment before whispering, “Oh my God, I’m dead.” That’s what I said.

Our car was ripped apart (lengthwise) from hood to trunk, welding the sheared pieces to the front end of the taxi. Twenty feet away, our flung wreckage had come to a halt at the entrance of a branch bank. I hung down twisted and broken through the remains, my face hovering just above the pavement, my auburn curls resembling a red rag mop.

Most gay couples are drawn and quartered by such tragedy. They’re impeded by laws awarding jurisdiction to distant family members. They’re intimidated by protocol and prodded by propriety. Their feelings and wishes are summarily dismissed as irrelevant. Barred from the ambulance. Excluded from intensive care. Denied decision-making.

“She’s my sister,” Liz lied emphatically. It instantly ended any question of her authority.

The first time she lied was to the officers who barricaded the wreckage, then tried to restrain her from reaching back for me. They’d dragged her clear, insisting I was beyond help.

How she broke loose, and what transpired is a wonder.

I must have responded to the energy of her touch. I must have been warmed to the blending of her tears in my stone-cold eyes. I must have sensed the silent incantations of her heart imploring mine to hold the course of ‘us’ as one, against all obstacles and odds.

“Hey, babe!” I breathed.

Her second lie was to the ambulance attendants. The third, to emergency room doctors. The fourth, to nurses. And then to technicians, aides, and investigators. She didn’t hesitate to claim me as her sister, knowing involuntary deceit had long been coerced from gays in lieu of being banished and public humiliation.

Lies were once our only conceivable lifeline.

Fortunately, I was a corporate executive for a large conglomerate. It gave me special insurance privileges that provided her with unlimited hospital access. She stayed in my room. She partook in every detail of my care and was privy to all my medical information. My doctors consulted her. My nurses kept her updated.

Nevertheless, when it came to certain courses of action, not everything suggested was automatically allowed.

It’s because (even now) most lesbians mistrust the medical profession. We cringe at the prospect of contact with male doctors. We shy to probes pertaining to our personal lives and intimate behavior. And, even though many older women entered conventional relationships in an effort to hide their true sexual identities, there are vast numbers of lesbians who have never engaged in intimacy with a man. Women who know being gay goes far beyond an aversion to heterosexual sex; that the differences in our genetic codes include a wiring that circuits a deep-seated aversion and basic incompatibility with all dominant aspects of the opposite gender.

It’s as if (equivalent to the distinction found between Asian and African elephants trumpeting in the night) science will someday discover that we, too, are a similar — but different — species.

So it came as no surprise to Liz when I refused to be catheterized, even though catheterization was necessary to save me. Regardless of the brutal total body trauma I suffered, this perfectly natural anomaly had triggered my sense of dignity, demanding decorum. Only the empathy and courage of a surgical nurse named Christine could clear the emergency room of male doctors and provide me with the symbiosis I needed to survive.

Forty-one years have passed since the crash that forever altered our lives. I insist the change was for the best, even though I pass each day in fluctuating degrees of pain, and walk with a cane, and sleep with my neck and left leg braced. My brain still spasms on rare occasions, jerking my head violently to the left. My hand sometimes trembles. My body sometimes buckles. My ears burn shades of crimson whenever my emotions run high, or my energy runs low.

And, even though I can no longer sit for more than 30 minutes at a stretch, nor walk for longer than 20 without resting, nor stand on cement surfaces for any length of time, from all outward appearances you’d never suspect there was anything amiss with me.

No criminal proceeding ever materialized since, back then, drunk driving was a misdemeanor. And it took well over a year before the civil action found its way onto a court docket. By then the driver had vanished, while both the taxicab company and its insurance agency filed for bankruptcy.

That left the state to assume jurisdiction over the proceedings, and it would only approve payment of a dime on every dollar litigated, with a preset ceiling attached.

My lawyer told me to settle for $30,000 against bills that would total 10 times that in just 10 years.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you lied about being sisters,” he said. “And if we went to court, that lie will come up. It’s a character issue. You’ll have no presumed credibility.”

“A character issue?” charged Liz. “Whose character?”

My attorney remained silent except for his shuffling of documents.

“The drunk driver?” she asked. “His employer? The insurance broker? The court demanding a decision?”

“Settle,” he suggested a second time.

“And if I don’t?” I challenged.

“I’m not certain my firm can work a trial date into our calendar. I’m afraid, if you don’t settle, you’ll have to find other representation.”

So I settled.

Honestly? I was just so damn happy to be alive, grateful for every second of every extra day.

“And, when you think about it,” Liz reasoned as we left the courthouse heading home, “for the rest of our lives they have to be them. But we get to be us.”

It’s a cause for celebration.

#   #   #   #

This freshly updated essay by Marguerite Quantaine first appeared in the third person in The St. Petersburg Times (2008) and Venus Magazine in the first person (2010).  Copyright by M. Quantaine © 2008 / 2010 / 2013.

Please share your thoughts here by selecting REPLY.

I’m all eyes and heart.