In gratitude and grief: thoughts on the death of Dr. Tiller and what it means for LGBT families

We’re pleased to bring you the following
guest post by Terry Boggis. Terri is the Director of Center
 at the LGBT Center in NYC, a family program for the
children of LGBT parents. Founded in 1989, Center Kids provides
opportunities for children to befriend other children from similar
families and advocates at state and local levels for the rights of
alternative families. This post is cross-posted at the Center blog and was submitted as a contributed
to the 4th Annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day
Terry received the first Hostetter-Habib Family Award at Family
Equality Council’s Night at the Tavern event, April 21, 2009, for
her front-lines work for our families.  

I was going to write about Pride, how it
looks for LGBT families in New York City–the gatherings in parks,
the marches, and our 21st annual Center Kids,
Center Families Pride Picnic
on June 27 (this year, featuring
entertainment from “Shrek: The Musical”!) –but today, I can’t
help but be distracted from the spirit of celebration by the
heartbreaking murder of Dr. George Tiller in
Wichita this weekend.

For the past six years, New York’s LGBT
Community Center
has been the central organizing point for a
coalition-building, movement-building project called Causes in Common:
Reproductive Justice and LGBT Liberation
, which makes the
connections between the shared work and struggle for choice and
privacy, yes, but also for access to comprehensive, competent 
reproductive health services, for autonomy in matters of sexuality
and reproduction, for safety, affordability, privacy, and access,
all in the context of a social justice and human rights
framework.  Our network now includes over 140 LGBT and
reproductive health and rights advocacy organizations, and Dr.
Tiller’s killing impacts every one of us.

In many regions of the country, doctors
willing to perform abortions are virtually nonexistent. In every
region of the country, abortion providers and the patients they
serve are picketed and threatened with violence, including here in
the biggest city in the liberal northeast. And those of us who are
students of history or old enough to remember know that elimination
of services won’t eliminate the determination of desperate women
to end pregnancies – they will just resort to dangerous, often
deadly means to do so.

And it’s not just about abortion, or
“choice” vs. “life”, or some other hopelessly reductionist
frame. It’s about external forces – government, ideology,
religion, fanaticism – walking into our bedrooms, our doctors’
offices, our emergency rooms and clinics, our relationships and
families, our lives – and taking over, deciding for us who gets
to have children and who doesn’t and when we can have them, who
receives services and who doesn’t, the methods we are permitted
to employ to create our families, which families count as
legitimate and which do not, which lives matter and which ones

Dr. Tiller’s assassination is a blow to all
of us who advocate for the right to create and define and value our
families, in an atmosphere of safety and security. Before we
celebrate, we mourn.