My wife and I take off for California this Thursday and wonder what we will find in the state that has made so many decisions for us while we have been gone. What will we have to do to be recognized? What do we have to do to be safe?
Our story started when we decided to get married a year before our actual date (June 13, 2009) in order to make a stand toward equality in my home state. We went back and forth about going through with a pre-marriage in the courts but decided it was absolutely necessary. We are Mrs. and Mrs. now.
After that wonderful day, we saw our marriage try to be transformed through Proposition 8. We heard Mormon leaders, Focus on the Family, and other religious leaders talk about us as if we were animals that didn’t deserve the same rights as others. They called us, in every way, separate but equal. Abomination, sinner, future pedophile, not of God…you name it, we heard it. The same church I grew up in told me I was not allowed to share the same fundamental rights because of who I loved, not who I was. We stood up to take a stand against that. My wife and I love each other and will fight for our marriage and our faith every chance we get.
Proposition 8 passed and we sighed. We knew the fight was not over, but it was a sad day. Watching tv and reading the blogs, we awaited the Supreme Court decision that was released on Tuesday, May 26, 2009, hoping that the court would not uphold discrimination. We were mistaken again. It was another disappointing day in California. Meanwhile, Iowa, the state we currently live in while I am finishing my doctoral degree, made gay marriage legal. I feel like a yo-yo.
What I don’t think people understand is what this does to those around me. Yes, I do realize that it affects me, but this also affects those families I deeply care about. I am lucky to have friends and family that care about me, but they also have to see me struggle. They have to see me cry. They have to see us go through discrimination. They also have to see all of this under the shroud of religious law. Didn’t we learn our lesson when we tried to fight for slavery and banning interracial marriage using the bible? Don’t you find picking and choosing which verses to follow a little hypocritical?
Here’s what I know is certain. If you kick us down, we will stand back up again. You can make me cry, hate me, yell at me, say terrible things to me, you can disown me, but you CAN NOT break my spirit. I will be who I am forever. No matter how many bible verses you throw at me, my spirit will not break. My God loves me and it is up to Him to decide my fate. Your politics and your “pick-and-choose” religion will not break me. Jesus loves me! Buddha loves me! God loves me! You can’t take that away from a person no matter how much you try.
What saddens me most is that you are affecting yourself. Students and young people are turning away from specific religions because of their influence and focus on the individual lives of others. Church membership, overall, is going down over time. It will continue to decline the more you isolate and define worth based on identity. The world is changing. The world is evolving. No matter how hard you try, change will occur.
Right now, you are teaching your children that some people have more worth than others. You are slowly teaching them bullying tactics and displacing them from understanding equality. You are creating people who embrace discrimination and hate. To embrace hate under the shroud of religion is terribly sad. It is hurtful to those around me and to me. Teaching hate through worth is terrible.
Where do I stand right now? I am one of 18,000 couples to be put in another box. We are married in a state that does not really want us to be married. We are in gay limbo. If I may, how low can we go? Would you wish us to lose our rights and be treated as less-than? Probably. Based on the words I hear, I already know you feel this way. It’s not because we use the word marriage either. It’s because of who we are. It’s because of who we love. It’s because we are gay. Don’t shroud homophobia in the debate on gay marriage. This is all about worth, fear and hate.
Where do I stand right now? I am in a complicated place. Am I supposed to carry around my marriage license with me so you know I am married? Will you give me a special license for my pocket with my marriage number on it? How will I prove I am one of the 18,000? How will you prove another couple is not? Are you to start a database of all of us? How will this work? I have a lot more questions than I do answers. It’s quite an interesting place to be.
What I know. It is a happy day and a sad day. Most days are. I wake up not knowing what is going to happen next, but I rely on my friends and family (who still support me and talk to me) to get my back. I am very lucky. I just wish that some days could be easier…just a bit easier. Today is not that day. How about tomorrow?
Dispatch from Rural Wisconsin #2
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