January 30, 2016

Good News Two Times Over!!!!!

When something wonderful happens for our friends, we share their joy. And that is especially true this week. Our Vice Chair, Steve, and Tony, a retired doctor and his partner of nearly 34 years, finally saw their commitment recognized under Greek law. Adding to the moment, theirs was the first same-sex civil partnership (symfono symviosis) signed by Athens Mayor George Kaminis and officially the first in Greece.

The news is spreading steadily now, and DAGR shares the joy, if not the credit. The country committee in Greece has exercised restraint in joining with LGBT activists locally, all the while supporting DA’s global effort. DA’s role, including participation in Pride events in more liberal countries, is to advocate for gender issues in the US. So, naturally, last year, when the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Dems Abroad, and its LGBT Caucus in particular, cheered.

And so did we, even while worrying the decision might entice some of our supporters to take their spouses back to the US. With this new Greek law, our LGBT couples can choose to stay here, and DAGR can ‘come out,’ too. Potentially, this means a DAGR LGBT Caucus and participation as an organization in the next Pride event. There will be more events, because there will be many practicalities in the new laws (everywhere) to work through and because it takes a while for laws on the books to become laws of the heart.

Let me return, for just a minute, to the personal level. Steve and I first worked together for the 2009 Inaugural celebration at ACS. We’ve cooperated closely for almost 10 months now at the helm of DAGR. And it has been a total pleasure; he’s one of the most thoughtful human beings I know … and a lot more self-disciplined that I am. I flare up, Steve smooths me out, and a happy medium goes forward. Oddly enough, despite a few meetings held at Steve’s place, I’ve never met Tony. In these recent months, he’s been gone a lot, volunteering with Doctors of the World in refugee centers around the country. We’ve had one or two long phone chats about the refugee reality, and from these I gather he’s at least the second most thoughtful human being. He’s also served on the mayor’s refugee advisory committee, so it seems Mr. Kaminis shares my take. Friends of theirs add to the chorus of ‘really, really good people; couldn’t have happened for nicer folks!’

We thought it wise to check with Steve before ‘going to press’ with the news. He’s away on business this week, but here’s what he emailed back with the go-ahead, “We are really proud to be able to promote and celebrate social progress...and maybe along the way bring those Manolis in the closet out, so they can learn that they have power.”

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Doing what each of us -- as individuals and as members of a historically progressive political organization -- can do to make the world a more just place, where everyone has the means to live and the liberty to pursue a bit of happiness.

To Steve and Tony, our heartfelt best wishes on this momentously happy occasion!

Karen Lee

DAGR Chair