Thursday, May 15, 2008

Historical Day

Today the Supreme Court of California ruled in favor of Marriage Equality.

Now let’s get into my "way back" machine...

In 2000 there was a statewide vote to “ban gay marriage” and it passed. By 61%. So we left. Screw you California (not that politely said) and we moved to Canada where our marriage was not yet a legal reality, but the federal government recognized our union for immigration policies (something still unavailable here in the US).

We stayed for a year. Money, jobs, prospects, cost of living and the ultimate decider - SUNSHINE - brought us back to California, bruised and bitter.

This stuff is very personal and hard to put into words on a page. It is very hard to be on the outside looking in. As a gay kid you spend your entire life on the outside. Your idea of what makes a family and of what love looks like for yourself is not welcome at everyone's table. For those black activists who claim that gay rights aren’t a civil rights issue because they can’t change the color of their skin but I could change who I love... well I call bullshit on that. And I can’t just go and “pass” for straight any more than they would want to “pass” for white. Nor should any of us. And for all the entitled white gay men out there who don't think that the fight for racial equality is also about them, shame on you.

We left California with all our possessions and our pride packed up in a big truck with a big middle finger (figuratively) painted on the back of the trailer. A year later we came back chastened and eager for our life to resume in California. But on our return we now had a new attitude. I’m not welcome. I am not a part of America. I am only here for myself and to get what I can, money and sunshine. I will take and take and take and then I will leave because I am not one of you. I don't matter. I don't count. Unwelcome in the country of my birth, where my parents were born and where half of my grandparents were born and my other grandparents names are listed at Ellis Island. Here in the land of the free I do not have those freedoms. And it makes me sad.

As I write this, the blood pulses through me as if I were in a fist fight for my life. It makes me angry.

Then marriage equality was ratified throughout Canada and we decided to get married. A real wedding! In one place in the world we would have all the rights and responsibilities that go with that. This is a real issue for us. Inheritance, hospital decisions, next of kin notification... all those things become more real as you grow together. And let me tell you, we’ve gone through some of that stuff and we have had the most incredibly good experiences with our families respecting our wishes and employers who grant spousal rights. And we’ve had friends who have had the exact opposite. Power cut off, possessions taken and denied access to the funeral of their partner by a family who refused to acknowledge their relationship and those people could get away with it because the law was on their side.

You know those people who say they just want to be accepted? Turns out that is not what I want. I want to be celebrated. I want my life and my choices given the same weight and excitement as those of my straight brother and sister. And through my wedding I discovered that. And I got that. That day (and night) my world came together and the love and joy I experienced was worth every dollar spent on the party as it surely spared me an equal dollar amount of therapy trying to figure out weather or not I was truly loved and accepted for who I am. Everyone should be so lucky. No one should be denied that.

So we are married in Canada. And every time we go North we are a couple and we walk in together. And when we come home we separate at the ticket counter and ignore each other through customs and immigration until we are on the plane. We can not be ourselves. We can not let the government know who we are. And don’t kid yourselves if you think the government (this current government) would use being gay against you on entry to the Untied States. THEY DO. I get through easy and then I wait for sometimes half an hour wondering why my husband isn’t through yet. It turns my stomach every time. Think about that for yourself if you are in a heterosexual marriage. EVERY TIME you deal with the government you have to lie (a sin of omission if you will) and hope they don’t find out. EVERY TIME. It is no way to live.

(and there is no lack of fear in posting this and having one of our names turn up on a government immigration list)

And now today California becomes the next state to grant marriage equality. And I want it. But I am afraid of what the Federal Government will do with that information. I know that the Federal Government won’t give me and the countless others what we need in the form of immigration reform. Though I am thrilled with today’s results I am at the same time so pissed off because IT’S NOT ENOUGH. Don't let your guard down. Don't believe for a minute that the fight is over.

All that said, I’ll be out celebrating tonight just the same.

The news says it will be 30 days before the state will begin to issue licenses. We'll be registered (again) at Crate & Barrel.


Carolyn said...

Speaking as a married heterosexual white woman, I must say that I think it's stupid that gay marriage isn't legal and accepted across the nation. We attended the most beautiful Jewish lesbian wedding about a month after we got married. It wasn't LEGALLY binding, but knowing how much these women loved each other and seeing their entire families embracing their union and yet struck by the irony that the government didn't think they deserved to be a recognized wedded couple just made the ceremony that much more meaningful to me. Believe me, they are more "married" than most of my hetero friends are. However, insurance has been a real issue for them, especially now that they have 3 kids. If the stupid-ass government is so worried about health care, then why don't they give access to a gay spouse's health insurance? Because the government is too short-sighted to realize that gay marriage should be legal...and embraced and celebrated. (And not just for health care reasons; but because it's right and fair.) So, Jim, on this day of victory (of sorts) in your state, I embrace and celebrate you and Lyle and your marriage. We have Crate and Barrel in Chicago too. Let me know when you register and I'll send you something for your bridal shower.

Rachel said...

yeah, to all of it.

TheHMC said...

Ditto to Carolyn. And I'm happy that you have such a wonderful relationship.. someone to love THAT much and that loves you right back. I've always believed that anyone and everyone is entitled to that and have been in many a heated debate over this very thing. A very, very (VERY) dear friend of mine has been with his partner for over 20 years and they're two of my favorite people. And I've always thought it was so wonderful that they could be SO damn happy! It pisses me off that they can't be legally recognised as the couple they are. He would've loved to be a dad but never wanted to deal with the drama that would surround it and that makes me so sad. I'm still holding out and hoping that one day they'll be able to adopt like they want to. So much of that "outside" bs that you talked about though... they won't even go there at this point in time.

That's all I want for anybody. Gay, Straight, shouldn't have to hide it and you should be able to marry who you want. Period.

I could go on about this for days, but just want to give you a gigantic hug. Congratulations, and I'm glad you guys had fun at the celebration.
I will be looking forward to following you wedding plans ;).