Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Political moment

This is not a political blog. I try to stay out of politics whenever possible.

I grew up with politics in a way that I don't think many people do.  Example: my first "elevator speech" for a political candidate I wrote when I was 5, and I think I pitched it to other kids at Vacation Bible School (having not yet started school).  I door knocked at 7 and talked to people about taxes and pro-life versus pro-choice.

That little preface there, that's to explain that now, when I say that I like to stay out of politics, I do so because I have been so far into politics that there was little else.  This does not mean that I ignore politics.  I follow reasonably closely things on the state level and vaguely on the national level.

So this issue is near and dear to my heart, and I'm so sad that North Carolina voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that  bans same-gender civil unions and doubly bans same-gender marriage (note: no gender versus sex discussion today, thanks).

In my neck of the woods this is hotly under discussion, and I haven't written why marriage matters to me, so here it is, parts 1 and 2.

Part 1: I grew up in a little farm town where the adopted Korean kids were picked on mercilessly for being different (to give you a sense of the level of outsider fear) and being gay was the absolute worst insult. Worse than being an atheist.  One of my good friends was the least popular kid in school and therefore bore the brunt of the taunting, mostly about being gay.  He wasn't, but it didn't matter anyway, since hardly anyone looked at him like he was a human being, let alone gay or straight.  The endless bullying made him sad and eventually he hung himself, and I think a big part of that was having internalized the sub-human status given to gays and on some level worrying it might have been true.  Nobody deserves that, and laws like this one make it easy for adults to model that gays are not fully human unless celibate/castrated/whatever weird rules folk come up with.  When adults model hatred, kids learn it well and practice it on each other, and other kids die or are scarred as a result.  Equal legal rights and protections pave the way for no right to publicly hate, which means safer kids.

Part 2: As a kid growing up in a little farm town, I knew I was different (and not just because I had parents who weren't locals).  My first crush was on a boy, my second on a girl, and then many afterward on girls.  I figured this made me gay, and over a few months of obsessing about it, I was sad but accepted that I was whomever my Higher Power made me to be.  But why was I sad?  Because all those dreams you dream up as a little kid about your life as an adult, they all include getting married.  It broke my heart into a pile of little pieces that I could never get married if I fell in love with a woman.  After a couple of years, Vermont had civil unions, and it dawned on me that maybe this "marriage" thing was bigger than what I'd learned from my peers.  I joined a faith community that marries same-gender couples in just the same way it marries opposite-gender couples.  No kid deserves to have their every dream about their future crushed because they are gay.  Marriage and the partnership that goes with it ought to be available to everyone [on a legal level. You keep your faith off my laws, I'll do the same, thanks.].

Today I'm happily married, something I didn't think was possible then, and it's miraculous.  Every loving couple deserves equal legal protection, every family deserves to have a public recognition of their loving relationship, so yes, marriage matters.  It's not all about the law, it's about being able to take part in a public commitment to each other and have that commitment simply understood by those around you.  Just try explaining a "commitment ceremony" to someone over 50, I dare you.  You get blank stares and bewilderment.  If you name that very same ceremony a marriage, even if you have to explain that the people getting married are Adam and Steve instead of Adam and Eva, they get it.

So NC, along with other states with such amendments, I look forward to when hatred gets written out of constitutions and these are overturned.  It's only a matter of time.

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