Sunday, November 9, 2008

Second-Class in the Midst of Amazing History

The morning after the historic election of Barack Obama was marked by tears in our house. Even though the race was close on Tuesday night, I was sure that I would wake to find that California’s Prop 8 had been defeated and that same-sex marriage would still be legal. I was shocked to find that I was wrong. Not only that, but Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas passed anti-gay laws and amendments. After some tears and much of the day spent in mopey sadness, I was finally happy to come to terms with it. I guess it’s always good to know where you stand, and my status as a second-class citizen is firmly in place. Yes – sarcasm and bitterness fully intended.

Since that time, there have been many protests against the LDS church since its members contributed more than half of the funds used to strip civil liberties from the G&L population in California. Many, many people in Utah (including the LDS church leadership) are upset over the protest locations – outside of temples – but after a lot of thought and reflection, I’m not.

Here’s a scenario: the KKK bankrolls legislation intended to re-introduce slavery. Appalling thought. Horrible possibility. Would we protest the local business that sells confederate flags or would we show up at the front door of the KKK and make our voices heard?

Another scenario: Microsoft funds legislation that prohibits mixed race couples from adopting. Are you kidding me? Get your big business out of my family, right? So, would we stand outside of Circuit City with our signs and placards simply because they sell computers? Nope. We would be on Bill Gates’ doorstep demanding equality for all parents and children.

So, I guess my message is this: If you don’t want political action close to your places of worship, don’t get involved in politics. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it. Oh, and don’t position your corporate offices next door to a sacred place of worship. Temple square is just too convenient. Don’t encourage your members to be involved in politics without expecting our members to be as engaged. Look. I promised NOT to get married in your sacred buildings if you promise to keep your religion out of my MARRIAGE (and it will be someday).

So, as a group, we’re finally pissed, but this begs the question: Where was the outrage in Utah in 2000, 2007, and Amendment 3?

I think that we, unfortunately, just expect defeat here in the land of Zion. We expect that things will change but that we will NOT be on the cutting edge of that change. Instead, we'll be the bleeding, burger-like, stumpy appendage dragged along behind because it couldn't be successfully amputated (no matter how hard its church leaders tried). And, we just seem resigned to that.

Outrage in California isn't a shock because people really believed that it could happen. Their proposition even received funding for its battle. Money for any GLBT battle in Utah is very hard to come by. We’re all too busy thumbing our noses at our oppressors by swilling our wine over beautifully appointed tables filled with exceptionally tasty food. We’re all too happy to spend our money in the beer garden at Pride Day instead of bundling up the babies and packing baby food and diapers for a rally on Capitol Hill. Funding? Involvement? We haven’t had the voice. We haven’t had the guts. It’s like standing up to the bully on the playground or that bitchy cheerleader in the locker room.

So, why then do we suddenly have actual outrage spilling over into our state? Maybe because California seemed to be a surrogate for all of our hope, and when that hope was aborted at the hands/funds of the very group that oppresses us daily, we finally started to open our eyes. We finally started to realize that we don’t need to be silently oppressed. (Don’t get me wrong. We live in Utah. We are gay/lesbian/bi/transgendered. We will be actively oppressed. We may not be quiet about it anymore.)

Marriage. It’s just a word, right? It used to be a sacred religious right, but that’s just not the case anymore. People marry acquaintances for green cards. Gay and lesbian friends marry so that they can obtain health insurance. Property rights, child custody, tax breaks… None of these things are sacred. It’s just a word.

Like “parent.” That’s just a word, too. Imagine a world where a parent must be biologically related to the child in question. This means that all adoptive parents wouldn’t really be parents at all. How ridiculous! Imagine a world where a parent must be the same color as their child. This means that kids of racially mixed parents would have legal access only to the parent who most closely resembles them. How stupid!

It’s just a word. For some, it’s a sacred word, and I expect that they treat the institution in a sacred manner – loving, respectful, non-abusive relationships that never end in divorce. Oh, wait! Doesn’t happen all of the time, does it? For some, it’s a word that represents a legal contract, and I expect that they approach their lives in a business-like manner with no emotion involved. Hmmm…… doesn’t make sense.

For me, it represents both the sacred and the contractual. My love for Bub and our boys IS sacred. She is my life, my liberty, and the thing I continue to pursue to find happiness. And, I want to “do right” by her and our family by having a legal, binding contract that obligates me to them and them to me, that ensures fairness to them (especially Bub), and that gives our boys the same rights and privileges as all children of straight parents.

In the end, all I know is that SEPARATE IS NOT EQUAL. As long as I don’t have access to the word itself, I am not equal.

And, let’s face it. Marriage is not just a word. It’s a CIVIL right. Until the word applies to me and my love for Bub, I remain a second-class citizen. And, I’m tired of it.

Straight people: It’s about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…. MY happiness – not yours. You already have your happiness. MY happiness is a CONSTITUTIONAL right to be afforded to ME in the same way that it is afforded to you. And it will be.


beckbeau said...

Very well said!

Heidiat2nd said...

Here here...what about this...why don't we petition to change all "marriages" to Civil Unions, I mean they are just that right? Why do we want it to be called marriage, why can't we force all to have a civil union not a marriage. Or how about this, all first joinings of 2 adult people shall be called a marriage, then the 2nd, third or 15th "marriage" after the divorces is a civil union?

It's all so is just a word. I am just disgusted!

Anonymous said...

Such a well-written post. I agonized over whether to protest on Friday because of the location of the protest, but the whole family went. And we were amazed and re-energized by the solidarity.

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing post! You need to write a letter to the editor - you MUST!