Same-sex and Same Rights

Earlier today I got an annoying message on Facebook from a HS acquaintance who wanted to correct me for the stance I have taken on gay rights and specifically same-sex marriage.  I posted my response to my feed there but I decided that I wanted to take it a bit further and just keep saying it loud:

Obviously we need a reminder. Let’s be clear, I am a supporter of same-sex marriage. I am an advocate for equal rights for all people. And so I don’t react well when someone wants to “take me to task” for my beliefs.

For all the people trying to make this a religious argument–that marriage is a “religious act” that government should have no part of, then I highly suggest you make your actions match your words and reject any and all government benefits you receive for being married. I challenge you to file your 2012 taxes as “single”, to divide your property according to contract law and purchase your own insurance instead of benefiting from your spouse and to be subjected to a custody evaluation to ensure that you are fit parents for your children. Go out today and make a will that doesn’t rely on presumptions of law. Hire an attorney to draw up any powers of attorney you might need in the event of an unforeseen disaster. Oh and be sure that if you are asked to testify against your spouse in a court of law that you don’t invoke spousal privilege or marital immunity. Go on. If marriage is only a religious rite/right then this should be no problem…rejecting all the ways in which your marriage is entangled with government and getting government out of the way.

You can’t have it both ways.

If you’re unwilling to to give up your benefits for the status of your relationship then you better be willing to extend those same benefits to everyone else who has made just as sacred a commitment to their spouse as you have. They are prevented, by law, from obtaining a marriage license in order to have the same legal recognition as you. Why? Because of the gender of the person they have felt compelled to pledge their life to. A simple matter of gender and that somehow is enough to restrict their ability to enjoy the same benefits and certainties as you. Sorry, but marriage is not a private matter, not when so many governmental treats flow from that change in status.

The God I believe in loves unconditionally and blesses each of us unconditionally. You lose nothing in this deal except the peace of mind that the peculiar combination of your boy parts and girl parts make you special in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of God. Just like colleges, businesses and clubs were forced to open their doors to women or to men and women of color, you wrap your institutional identity so tightly around this concept of “specialness” that you feel you might lose your identity if others are allowed into the club.

Stop acting so persecuted and petulant. Recognize the privilege you have and extend that with grace and compassion to others.

 I’m tired of living in the 21st century and still having to debate something like human rights. There should be no debate.  In an era where borders are quickly melting away, when age-old disputes are being exposed to a new light of thinking, when we have enough knowledge and information to discern that we not just all inhabit the same planet, but share common characteristics and problems, isn’t it about time that we stop debating human rights and simply…share in these rights together?

Love is a condition of our humanity.  And some would argue that Love is the purpose of our humanity.  So instead of honoring this sacred condition, this noble purpose instead we arbitrarily throw a net around it to contain the people who defy what?  Nature?  God?

There are some who argue that same-sex unions are unnatural.  Why?  Because they don’t produce biological children?  Is there a population shortage I have been unaware of?  Last I checked our population levels seriously challenge our planet’s ability to sustain so much….life…. And it’s not that I am against children or parental unions raising children together, it’s that children aren’t a biological necessity in this day and age.  The human race will not become extinct if two consenting adults engage in a sexual activity that will not create human life…which, for the record, isn’t exclusive to same-sex couplings.  Did you know that each day I have had sex in the past 8 years, I have not conceived a child?  Tis true!  Yet, no one has come to tear up my marriage license and declare my union null and void.  And I doubt anyone will.

This weekend I celebrate 10 years with my husband.  Oddly, marriage has been easy for us.  Sure we’ve had fights, some of them rather epic and defining.  And sure, we’ve both changed tremendously throughout those 10 years.  But it’s momentous. And we’re celebrating it using money we got back from our taxes. We’ll go away to a hotel for a night and maybe like the Disney hotel we stayed in for our 8th, we’ll get some special treat for being married for 10 years.  We can celebrate it loud and proud because well, society supports people staying together in a marriage.

Contrast that against gay couple we know who recently celebrated 21 years together.  They quietly celebrated it, announced it on Facebook and shared it with their friends.  But somehow I don’t think they got a generous payback from the government to help them celebrate it a little more lavishly.  Somehow I think they’ve got to be much more careful about their funds.  Keeping everything separate enough so they can avoid extra liability for their status as a couple.  If they went to stay at the same hotel as us, the staff might not be as friendly or accommodating as they will be to  Mike and I.  It is hard for them to find a card that adequately expresses what they feel for one another–maybe having to cross out the word “wife”–which then screws with the card’s rhyming scheme: Thank you for being my wife husband that I shall cherish for all life. If they celebrate out in public, outside of a gay venue, they may even be subjected to jeers, boos and possibly physical harassment instead of the charming synchronicity of applause Mike and I might get.

Yes, it is primarily government, but it is also culture that denies access and visibility to this group.  In our very policies and social interactions we are brazen with our own privilege, so absorbed with our presumption and praise for boy parts and girl parts that mesh together that we declare that sacred.  We don’t recognize how few reflections we provide of even our own culture when the vast majority of our movies portray a boy and girl falling in love and never pause to even consider whether boy meets boy would be a more compelling story to tell.  Sure we have more gay visibility in entertainment, but that’s sort of small compared to the number of times gay-ness is still the punchline to a joke or an insult worthy of violence in almost all forms of media entertainment.  Our policies reflect our self-congratulating presumption that the penis-vagina pairing is the only pairing available or allowable.  And what about the emerging queer culture that dissolves many of the lines between the masculine/feminine binary?  The people who are more attracted to the soul of a person than the attachments and flesh accessories that come with that particular skin-job model? I won’t even touch poly or open-relationships right now, but they count too.

Tradition is a sticky thing to hold onto.  Eventually every institution, yes, including marriage, must either change and adapt to the times or be left scraping for what little tradition is even relevant any longer.  Tradition does not give rise to evolution.  And if we want life to be better then we need to continue evolving.   But, you know what?  It will happen whether we are dragged kicking and screaming into a new era or whether we gather up our courage, our intelligence and yes, our love for humanity and decide to lead in the direction of progress.  We are lucky to have enough intelligence to allow that evolution to happen of our own free will.

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