Why would anyone truly believe that if two people in love are allowed to marry, the fact that they are a same-sex couple "undermines" the sanctity of marriage? Funny, but my 25-year marriage didn't rock one bit when all those gay couples got married in Massachusetts. Our foundations didn't crumble when Ellen proposed to Portia. We didn't break it off when Melissa and Tammy Lynn stood by each other through Melissa's cancer treatment. To think that what anyone else does threatens what I do is preposterous.
I would love to share with you the story of my relative who is gay, her trials and tribulations, but I'm afraid it would upset family members (though I've shared some of the info in comments on your blogs). I can tell you that I have been a donor to the Human Rights Campaign, that I have many, many friends who are gay, and that on the sexual continuum, I wouldn't place myself 100% on the "straight" side. (C'mon, there are so many beautiful women in the world. I can appreciate all kinds of beauty).
Things have changed, and that isn't easy for a lot of people. I remember in high school that there were many kids who were ostracized, mercilessly bullied, and humiliated just because someone started a rumor that they were gay. True or not, it was awful. Every female gym teacher was supposedly "queer." Girls were afraid to change clothes or shower in the locker room because someone might be scoping them out. I know it can't be easy on those bullies to know that the people they teased are human beings with equal rights, but I'm glad to know that in my lifetime some things are changing.
My son's best friend, whom he has known since they were both in elementary school, is gay. This friend lost some people in his life when he came out, but he didn't lose my son. In fact, my son is secure enough in himself that he will go to gay bars with his friend and feel completely unthreatened. I'm sure he has thought plenty about his own sexuality, but he told me that he just likes girls - that's just the way it is.
In the same vein, his friend just likes boys. That's just the way it is. He has known it for as long as he can remember. We should no more expect him to suddenly turn on his heel and become attracted to women than we could expect my son to turn on his heel and start dating men. We are what we are. We are who we are. I think that this friend, and my relative, should be afforded the same rights that I have with my husband. My relative is no less dedicated to her partner than I am to mine.
Consider that my husband was able to stand by and provide information and make decisions at the hospital when I was incapacitated from a life-threatening bleed and was put into ICU. We took this right for granted. What if my son's friend and his partner were in the same situation? He might be stopped at the door and asked, "Are you immediate family?" Note that "partner" doesn't mean immediate family. His partner might die while waiting for a "real" family member to be contacted for a decision. In many cases, our gay and lesbian friends are estranged from families who want nothing to do with them or who threw them out of the house.
It's about equality, you know? And it's about people being treated fairly. It isn't about dissolving the "institution" of marriage (though do any of us really want to be institutionalized?). It is just about being fair.
Marriage is about a commitment, about rights under law, and about publicly acknowledging your love for another human being. It shouldn't really matter what race, nationality, or sex that person is. Remember, up until 1967 we still had 16 states that had laws banning interracial marriage. Think about it. How many wonderful couples do you know who are of different races or ethnicities? My brother is married to an Asian woman (who is wonderful), but in the late 60s, my best friend's sister was ostracized for marrying a man from Korea. The whole church was up in arms. Would you even consider discriminating against those couples you call friends? Then why discriminate against same-sex couples who are in love and want to build a home and raise a family?
Who was the biggest force behind the vote to ban gay marriage in California last week? Not native Californians bent on rolling back the privileges of their fellow citizens. It was a church - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I find that highly offensive. They bussed church members from Utah to California to work for Proposition 8. I'm with the crowd that thinks they should have their non-profit status revoked if they're going to get that involved in politics. When churches begin to tell us what to think and how to vote, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
So what now? What do all those couples do who were once allowed to be a married couple and are now being told their marriage isn't permitted? Melissa Etheridge has had a novel idea. She is refusing to pay state taxes. If she's not a "full citizen," she says, then she shouldn't have to pay taxes, either. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but she's a tough cookie. I predict she'll go to jail for this in protest of the state's law. It is going to take people like her and sacrifices like that to get this Proposition repealed.
Regardless of your sexual orientation and regardless of your stand on the issue, I hope this post makes you think about the reality of what is facing the 10+% of Americans who just want to live the same dream the rest of us take for granted. I hope it makes you take notice of the legislation that is being drafted or adopted in your state. Think about your fellow humans and extend the olive branch. You don't have to live their lives, just imagine yourself in their shoes.
Peace - D