Saturday, October 18, 2008
I was married on Monday. In a small, private ceremony, my beloved and I stood with a few family members, looked into each other’s eyes and promised to love each other, to look out for each other’s best interests, and to care for and support each other for the rest of our days, no matter what obstacles life puts in our path.
We want this marriage to last a lifetime. But we are afraid if too many Californians listen to lies and fear-mongering and vote “yes” on Proposition 8, our marriage might last only 23 days.
What can I say to convince you to defeat this perhaps well-intentioned but profoundly misguided effort to eliminate the right of couples such as my partner and I to marry? I know that for many people, there is nothing I can say. But I will try anyway.
Do you worry your church will be forced to marry same-sex couples?
It won’t. The Supreme Court decision that began this era of marriage equality said exactly the opposite: “no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs."
Are you concerned about what children may be taught in school about sexuality?
The only thing mandated by the state is that children be taught “the legal and financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.” For parenthood, you will have to discuss sex at some point. But the legal and financial aspects of civil marriage? No need at all to discuss sex or sexuality to teach those lessons.
Worried about changing the definition of the word “marriage”?
I’m sorry, but we need to use that word, too. Domestic partnerships are important, but you know as well as we there’s something profound about the relationship to which we give the name “marriage.” It’s special to us, too. If you can allow Britney Spears’ 55-hour Vegas vindaloo to be called a “marriage,” surely you can allow my rather mundane (however extraordinary it is to me) example of mutual affection and caring to be called one as well.
Are you worried about children? How they “deserve to be raised by both a mother and a father?”
What if, hypothetically, I conceded that was the case? How does denying marriage equality do anything to further that goal? Does anyone seriously believe if Proposition 8 passes that gay people are suddenly going to look for opposite sex partners and start having children?
Of course not. How, then, does my marriage (to a delightful, loving man who is as interested in my well-being and happiness as I am in his) somehow translate into harm for more traditional families?
Gay people aren't going away, even if one of our rights might be.
We didn’t stop being gay when we were teased or abused on the playground because of who we are. We didn’t stop being gay when our parents disowned us because of who we are. Or when we were fired from our jobs or evicted from our homes because of it. When we could be arrested and jailed because of it.
Or beaten, tied to a fence and left to die.
If we didn't give up being queer after enduring all we have -- do people imagine we will forsake our identities because too many Californians refuse to recognize that our civil, legal arrangements with each other – our paperwork – deserve to be equal to yours?
The Yes on 8 campaign has almost $10 million more than those fighting for my rights have. The LDS church alone has raised 40% of the other side’s war chest, already has a very large and effective army in place, and is recruiting more volunteers from out-of-state to fight against equality. The campaign is allying themselves with other well-organized churches. They fill the airwaves with lies and appeals to base and groundless fears. To be honest, I tremble at the thought of them.
But I stand my ground. Because I stand on truth. I stand on the Constitution. All are to receive equal treatment under the law.
Unfortunately, many voters disagree with me. Proposition 8 may pass, and our marriage (at least the paperwork) could ultimately be “valid or recognized” for a mere three weeks and two days.
We must – all fair-minded Californians must, no matter how we feel about same-sex marriage – not vote to eliminate anyone else’s fundamental rights. If we miss this opportunity to guarantee equality, we may not have another chance for a generation or more.
Those of us who are closer to the end of our lives than the beginning may not, as Dr. King said, get to the mountaintop ourselves. But we can all take a giant step toward the promised land of equality for all by voting “No” on Proposition 8.
We can also help forward the cause of marriage by making a donation to Equality for All, the organization leading the fight against Proposition 8. There are approximately one million gay people in California -- but only 30,000 people have made donations to the No on 8 effort. (Hard to believe Bob and I are responsible for 1/1000 of those donors!) And lots of those were straight people. If all the gay folks got together and gave even $10 each, we'd be in great shape for these last two weeks of the campaign. Click here to make a donation. $10, $100, $1000 -- whatever you can do. It's important.