I’m writing today because I have a lot of feelings going on about today’s Supreme Court activity. Today, they heard arguments in a case that will decide the trajectory and timbre of the rest of my life. Today was the historic hearing of arguments in the case that will decide whether or not marriage equality will become the law of the land. This is important to me because I’ve been with my partner for more than 12 years, and I’d really like to marry her, but I never wanted to go to another state to do that. Plus, even if we did go to another state, our home state doesn’t recognize it (yet.)
It’s not just about the piece of paper…I don’t need that to tell anyone that I’m committed to my partner for the rest of my life. But it would be nice to have access to the same language other people use for that person in their life. Words matter, and I want to be able to call her my wife, because that’s who she is. She’s not my “girlfriend” or “lesbian lover” (omg, really?). She’s the most important person in my life. It means something to be able to use the same term any other person with a female spouse would use. Wife.
All my life, I’ve struggled with being different. When I was growing up in the late 70’s, “lezzie” and “faggot” were insults, and I always knew that if anyone found out that I might like girls, I might as well cease to exist. So I kept it to myself for many years. I even sought to rid myself of the “demons” when I was in college and got involved with a church group that believed you could “pray away” being gay. I even subjected myself to an “exorcism” performed by a woman from the church who told me I was possessed by demons and that was what was causing my homosexuality. I hated myself so much that I believed there were actual DEMONS inside me. How fucked up is that??
I don’t talk often about that chapter in my life, because I am embarrassed by it. I actually was willing to believe in a God who would make someone like this and then torture them. I have since learned to be comfortable with who I am, and I’ve built a very good life. But the memories and shame of my past experiences around when people found out I was gay…it’s almost reflexive, the self-loathing and shame that still surfaces. In a lot of ways, my drinking was an attempt to drown that out, along with many other things. It’s no wonder that LGBT people have much higher than normal rates of substance abuse in this country.
So today, as I was listening to the arguments for and against my right to marry my love of 12 years, I was taken by the idea that these lawyers were batting around one of the most important things in my life as if it was a soccer ball. This isn’t about politics, or some “gay agenda.” It’s about real people who have real hardships because they are not allowed by law to marry. If you don’t know of all the rights and privileges afforded to you by your state and Federal government in your marriage, I encourage you to read up on it. Financial security, ability to make life-altering medical decisions in a hospital for your spouse, adoption of the spouse’s kids…it goes on and on. All the rights people take for granted, many would like to see me not have, just because maybe they don’t understand why it’s important. Or maybe they believe that God disapproves. And in that case, it’s pointless to argue, because you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into. All I can do is be true to myself, and try not to let the fact that lawyers are kicking my life around like a football in some big courtroom far away get to me.