Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Challenge: Walk the Talk
After watching the video above I cried myself into a headache. Not just because it's sad and makes me angry at the same time. I cried because I love my spouse so very much and never want to lose her and have to deal with the crap that Shane Crone had to.
My wife and I are blessed to have families that accept our relationship and our romantic affiliations. I'm pretty sure that our parents would respect our wills and respect our decisions about after-life stuff. Though we are legally domestically partnered, both our parents (moms) live in states where there is no legal respect for same-sex couples so I'm not sure if their state laws have to respect Oregon's. So we have decided to create wills to ensure a smooth transition for all involved when the inevitable happens. That being said, even legal domestic partnership, wills, and other legal documents can't guarantee family members wouldn't be able to swoop in and try to override our decisions. Again though, for us this isn't really a concern.
For others after-life decisions are threatened all the time. And the Pollyanna type faith that some of my dear straight and queer friends have about marriage rights happening eventually, is really a lack of insight about the reality committed same-sex couples deal with. And I suppose in the end many of us are just too busy to be that concerned with anything that isn't about... well... ourselves. For some queer folks, their excuse for not fighting for marriage equality is something like "well I don't want to abide by the hetero-sexist paradigm of marriage" or "I'm not in a couple so who cares." Straights may say "it will happen some day so don't worry" and then feel annoyed if they're called out on the fact that they have deliberately chosen to take advantage of unequal laws. What I really love though are queers who marry for the name and benefits only and just shrug their shoulders and say "I needed the financial/medical/tuition assistance."
So fine. Folks can choose to brush off the issue of full equality, make excuses to wait for it, or just denounce the whole issue. But that doesn't change the fact that real lives are being attacked by an invisible kind of terrorism. If today we were talking about interracial couples and marriage rights, I know beyond a doubt many folks wouldn't have such a laissez faire attitude about it or participate in an institution that literally favors say whites over POC. But because this issue is directed at same-sex people... well... you know, someday.
I don't care if people don't like my family because my wife and I are both women. I don't care if folks think were gross or yucky even. Quite frankly I find Nadya Suleman doing porn utterly revolting. But I don't think she shouldn't get married just because she's gross. I don't want to be liked, I just want to be equal. Conservative politicians can vote about whatever but shouldn't it be wrong for them to make laws based on their dislike of me or the person I love or the way I have sex. I learned a long time ago as a little brown girl that some people don't like other people just because they were born. But I never thought as a child that I couldn't ever get married (and yes even as a kid I knew I might want to marry a girl someday).
So this is my challenge to all Frank readers: Walk the talk. Don't say someday, don't shrug your shoulders, don't get annoyed or indignant. Take a moment to not think about you. Put yourself in the shoes of the young man in the video. Ask yourself how you would feel & what you would do in the face of such inequality and hate. Not just from his partners parents, but from a system that allows for such behavior. Then put yourself in the shoes of say his best friend. What would you say? Would you tell him someday? Would you make excuses for why it's okay that you can or are married and he legally can't? Would you tell this man who legally can't be on the same equal footing as other citizens that it's okay because other folks needed the money or just wanted to or that what happened to him doesn't matter because of hetero-sexism?
If you are legally married I challenge you to explain why you chose participate in an unequal system. Be honest and be fair. Don't berate yourself or feel guilty or get mad at me for asking. Ask yourself...why? Know your truth and then take all those reasons and write to your Mayor, Congressperson, Senator, and the President. Tell them why you chose to participate in a legally unfair system and ask them to look inside themselves too and then ask them to fight to change legal discrimination.
If you're queer and don't care because of politics/or a lack of a partner I challenge you to ask yourself why legal discrimination is okay. Even if you don't want marriage with a capital M, why are you not advocating to have the same rights as other citizens? Why are you okay with being a 2nd class citizen? If you don't want marriage fine... but question why you don't want to be a part of a Country that has equal rights for all. Tell your friends and family that you think it's great that some people have rights and others don't, especially you, and see what they say. Do the same with your local politicians and see what they say too.
If you are queer and partnered whether legally so or not ask yourself what you have done lately to ensure your family has some protections on a federal level. Have you written wills, consulted a lawyer, and had the conversations with each other and your extended families about what your after-life wishes are? Have you told your beloved that you love them today? Have you done what you can to make sure your allies, friends, and families know that you love them and want to talk openly about oppression without blame? Have you voted for candidates that believe and vote for equality? Have you dealt with whatever shame you may have and have chosen to live life to its fullest, even when that means planning for death?
I know this post may make some of you mad, but before you get angry, get real. Look into your heart and ask yourself if you can stand to keep seeing people like Shane Crone suffer in the way he has. Ask yourself why his experience is okay and if you find that it is not, challenge yourself to stop making excuses and make your voice heard. That is what Shane has done. Don't we owe him and all others who have been treated unfairly by the law, a least that?
Update: The ban on marriage equality in North Carolina passed today. Please speak up!
Another update: President Barack Obama has "come out" in favor of marriage equality. This makes it even more important to speak out.