Posts Tagged ‘marriage equality’

The Act Bearing Witness: The Campaign for Southern Equality

January 13, 2013

I’m lucky: I live in a state that grants equal rights to all citizens. You know, that little tiny one that has a host of legal benefits called “marriage”. There is an organization that is working in the south try change the laws so that all citizens have the right to marry the person they love. The Campaign for Southern Equality is working to raise awareness, change the laws and bring equality to citizens in one of the most hostile regions of the country.

I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it a thousand more: I don’t care what your religious doctrine says about gay marriage. I truly don’t. My religion, church and congregation affirm marriage of all couples (and was one of the first in the nation to do so). It’s welcoming in the definition of the world welcoming: not the hip/trendy we are for gay rights that seems to permeate many congregations. I really, really, really don’t care what your interpretation of God is when it comes to my rights (but, unless you are willing to live by the entire literal teaching of The Bible, I’m also not interested in a discussion with you on the subject.

About this time every year, I become angry as I’m reminded I’m not a full citizen in the eyes of my government. I find it odd since apparently I qualify as a “Daughter of the American Revolution” (yeah, something about leaving Massachusetts for Ohio in the 18th century) and have some indigenous heritage as well (talk about not having the energy for apologist history). Every year when I complete my Massachusetts return, I’m reminded how in the eyes of the federal government, I don’t have the same rights. I don’t have the right to survivor benefits (Sally Ride’s wife doesn’t; Neil Armstrong’s wife does), I am not automatically given the right to make medical decisions for my spouse, don’t even go there with what can happen to inheritance issues in states that don’t recognize marital equality.

I’ll never understand how anybody can think my (non-existent) marriage can be a detriment to their marriages. This is civil rights: this is the equality of all citizens.

Tomorrow, two friends of mine will apply to have their legally obtained marriage license registered in the state of their current residence. It will be denied. They know it will. It won’t make it hurt less. It doesn’t make it less wrong. All it means is that in the 21st century, two people who I’m honored to call friends will be denied the rights that straight people take for granted. They both hold advanced degrees; they both work for justice. One likes basketball, one likes the Oscar Ceremonies the point of obsession. They are both normal women who love each other. And tomorrow, in the land of the ‘free’, they will be told and all of us who love them will be reminded of how they are oppressed by the state they live in and by the federal government. Yes, we’ve come a long way in under a decade, but we have so further to go. And until then, people like my friends will be told to their faces “their kind” (my kind) isn’t welcome in our country. And that is nothing short of shameful.

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Longest Gay Week

May 13, 2012

Long week. Long, long, long week. A week ago, Joe Biden makes a statement being for marriage equality on Meet the Press. Monday, North Carolina voters re-affirm homophobia and stereotypes. The next day, Mitt Romney is outed as a boarding school bully and Obama announces he supports same sex marriage.

Let the debates begin.

One of my friends wrote a lovely note about why LBGT people couldn’t expect Obama to come out for gay marriage due to the risk of loosing an election. Ok, that became a bit moot later in the day but I wonder? Will this cost Obama the election? I hope not.

I’m tired of being politicized. I’m tired of who I love being news. I’m tired of people who probably eat pork, shellfish, wear mixed fabrics and have probably never studied any religion outside of the four walls of their chosen faith have decided I’m an abomination. I’ve said it over and over, until somebody can explain to me why my marriage, my personal life can explain to me why/how it is a threat to their marriage, personal life without using religious language, I’m not interested in listening. It’s fear. Of course, if I had a marriage, it might be a bit more personal – right now, it’s a construct argument.

I wanted to feel elation when the president said he was for gay marriage. Instead, it immediately became a political debate. Did he do this for the ‘gay vote’? What votes will it cost him? I’m not stupid, it’s an election year. And in Washington, everything is about the next election. I had to explain to somebody all of the federal benefits of marriage: not just the obvious IRS tax code ones. The marrying a foreign national, the Social Security death benefits and on and on. I wanted somebody in the GOP to finally stand up and say, you know what? It doesn’t matter what happens between two consenting adults. I didn’t want to hear pundits bash gay conservatives. Sexual orientation and religion don’t belong in politics. I don’t feel threatened by my straight conservative friends heterosexual marriages and I’m going to guess they don’t feel threatened by my personal life.

Then we hear about Romney the boarding school bully. Just what we need. How can you forget if you cut off a classmates hair? Having been subject to some lovely junior high/high school bullying, I remember who spit on my face. I don’t know if they remember: I’d like to think they do. Of course the student involved was closeted. Of course.

Last Sunday, I thought maybe we can have a civil discussion about what it is like to be gay in this country, and how much it hurts. By the end of the week, I wanted to curl up in my bed and sleep. It’s been an exhausting week. It always is when people get to vote on your rights: and even when the president offers you an olive branch, it still hurts.

The road to equality is long and painful. I prefer knowing my enemies. I applaud Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden for their public change in position. In a few years, hopefully this will be viewed as a moment like President Johnson’s introduction of the Civil Rights Act. Courage isn’t often loud: courage is standing up for your beliefs when you have something to lose. Maybe that is what I needed to hear all week: not Romney the bully, the political gains/losses or did Biden force Obama’s hand. What I needed to hear was that when all is said and done, hopefully Obama and Biden will be remembered for standing up for what is right when it could cost them their jobs. And that type of courage should always be celebrated.