Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why get married?

I didn't really have a good reason to want to get married. Paul and I were already committed (mixing 401Ks and mortgages is a *lot* more serious than a silly marriage certificate, legally speaking) and we were already living together. Most of my family had already decided that we were really married deep down inside. So why do it? For my part, I have been inspired by the wonderful marriages of my parents and grandparents, and once I had Paul and knew he was for me, I wanted to get *married" and I wanted to grow that into something as beautiful as what my grandmother and grandfather had.

As we planned our wedding, I was also secretly sure nothing would change, and partially wondered why throw a big party to say “we're married now!” when really you were married all along in your souls. I was ready for the anti-climax.

But I was wrong.

There is something different about being married. And I don't know what it is. Some undefinable change happens, and you make it happen, but it is also outside of you. We threw a wedding and tried to include as many people as we could, with the belief that the community's support was a necessary part of taking just being in love to being married, to a public commitment, and a commitment from the public, to support and grow this new family unit. There is something invested by the community, into the couple, that is bigger than what we could make for ourselves.

And every day I look at Paul a little differently, though nothing has objectively changed. But, somehow, it has changed.

And with heavy heart I worry now that this right will be taken away from millions of people in my community. Tomorrow the people of California will vote on whether to take away marriage from people who love people of the same gender.

During the wedding planning, I read of several couples who decided not to get married legally because they could not go along with an institution unfairly denied to gays and lesbians. I was happy that I didn't have to make that decision, and proud to get married in a state where all of my friends and fellow Californians could marry as they chose. How civilized! How loving!

And that day? I was never one to fantasize about dream weddings, and fuss about the perfect details of My Perfect Wedding Day, but you know what? It was perfect. Because I was surrounded by my community, and they were there in love to witness and support our marriage.

And I want that right for all of my friends. The deserve it. They need it. Their children need it.

I've heard the arguments:
  • that Prop 8 is bad for children won't someone think of the children!??!?! (but what about the fact the gay teenagers have such high suicide rates? Perhaps if they weren't ostracized, they'd have an easier time of it? Oh, and since other countries have already moved forward, we already have studies, showing the kids are alright.)
  • That marriage is a religious ideal from that person's church. Well, fine, that person's church can do what it wants, but as long as the state is involved, it must be an equally available institution. I could just as easily make up a religion and start saying marriage was only for gay people. So what about my religious beliefs? The best answer would be for the state to only honor and create civil unions, and have nothing to do with "marriages," which are apparently owned by whatever religious institution the person you are talking to belongs.
  • That this will destroy marriage is my favorite. With a divorce rate of 50%, I think straight people have done a fine enough job of destroying marriage. And for my part, for my marriage, I will be honored to have taken part in an institution that is shared by all the people in my community, many of whom are gay and lesbian. Applying a “separate but equal” institution would honestly make me a little less proud of the “married” thing. Marriage should be a tool of community building, not separating, and entered with love and compassion, not fear and paranoia. (and? I've looked into it. Civil unions do NOT give the same rights and protections as marriages do. Yes, allowing people to ride the bus is great, but making them sit in the back is not equal, and should not be tolerated.)

There are two pieces of video that I hope everyone will take a moment to watch. The first is a commercial supporting Prop 8, except the words have been changed slightly, so you can see what this is really about. Please let this sink in:

The second piece is a heartfelt speech given by the mayor of San Diego in September of 2007. The mayor was set to veto a resolution in support of gay marriage, and had vowed he would do so. Instead, he gave this press conference:

His speech was heartfelt and thoughtful, and gave me hope that even those who have been mistaken on this issue in the past, even the vociferous haters of equal rights for gays, can grow and change and see a better way. Is there anyone in your life you can reach, to help them see things in a better way?

And please, if you do nothing else, vote against Proposition 8.

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