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EN*G*R*AGED

A concerned citizen writes (yet again):

I’m uncomfortable with the idea of gay marriage.  I don’t think it’s right to call it marriage, but I don’t want to discriminate.  Why can’t we just call it civil unions?  But then again, sometimes I don’t feel like I should even have an opinion as I’m not gay.  

LISTEN:

I’m not exactly sure where to start with your question, so let me just throw a whole lot of shit at the wall and we’ll see what sticks.

If this has anything to do with Chik-fil-A, allow me to quote a good friend, who considers himself married to a man (though they never had a ceremony or anything resembling, just that commitment to each other) and they have adopted two children – one of whom was removed from an abusive/neglected home (his teeth have rotted out because his mother never taught him to brush, for example – he was 6 at the time).  The child is half Native American, and the tribe contested the adoption because they are gay.  The only way they could succeed was to place him with a family member.  Do you know who they put up for the position?  A convicted sex offender.  While my friends are both successful, accomplished professionals.

They preferred a sex offender.

Anyway – he wrote:

“To summarize, Chik-fil-A has received flak for years from gay and gay-friendly communities due to its CEO, Dan Cathy, contributing heavily to anti-gay causes, particularly those that oppose gay marriage. Most recently, Cathy publicly denounced gay families albeit in a backhand way.

Mr. Cathy unequivocally has the right to make such statements. In turn, we have the right to refuse to patronize his company, given that we view as anathema our money supporting causes we consider invalidating, if not evil.

Right-wing counter-movements have recently sprung forward. These depict Chik-fil-A as a martyr penalized because its CEO simply expressed his beliefs. I’m saddened to see friends from my high school in rally in support of Chik-fil-A Of course, my friends — like everyone else — have the right to eat at Chik-fil-A.  I hope however they realize how hurtful this feels to me and my family.”

And another friend wrote:

“Let’s be clear. The problem with Chick-fil-A is not that it supports limiting marriage to heterosexuals or that it has a religious conviction to do that. Any business is free to carry that banner and should if they feel so inclined.

The problem is that it financially supports organizations that are SPLC designated hate groups that have routinely and unapologetically lied, quoted junk science, instigated fear campaigns, flouted laws and the court system, and inserted themselves into political campaigns for the sole purpose of disintegrating the lives of gay people.

Supporting Chik-fil-A today is not support for traditional marriage, free speech, or religious freedom (none of which have been damaged by a boycott). It is support of a billion dollar business that proudly subsidizes hate.”

I can’t imagine why anyone would eat there to begin with because I think the food is revolting.

And eating anything with plastic utensils is just the nadir of civilization.  That or Ke$ha, I’m not sure.

But there you go.

Now, as far as gay marriage in general (can we call it marriage equality instead?) and whether one should or shouldn’t have an opinion on it – well, here we go.

When marriage equality was instituted in San Francisco a few years ago, I asked my partner to marry me so we could be part of that history.  He said no, because he wanted to have his mom and dad present, and his friends – a “real” wedding.  Which was sweet because it is so him to say that, and annoying because it would have been so cool to have been part of that experience.

A few years go by, they legalize marriage properly in California – then they pass Proposition 8…then proposition 8 is overruled…now it’s heading to the Supreme Court.

What you don’t know is that we were going to get married.  In December, 2008.  We’d set a date, reserved a block of hotel rooms, etc., but we didn’t tell anyone because Proposition 8 was on the ballot, and I thought – well, let’s just make sure it doesn’t pass.

When it passed, it not only humiliated the thousands of gay and lesbian families who were already married, and broke the heart of those who wanted to be – it effectively canceled my wedding.

Think about that for a second.

Anyway – since then, actually, ever since I met her…his mom has really wanted us to have a ceremony of some kind.  She wants to have a reception, really, I think, and do it her way – because she didn’t get that from her daughter in law.

I don’t want to have a pretend wedding, though.  Why?

Well, there’s the expense – that’s a lot.  I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars to play dress up.

There’s the “I don’t think God exists” thing, so it’s not like I’m creating a holy covenant I want everyone to witness.

Of course there’s the “it’s against the state constitution” thing, so it pretty much renders all this moot.

So why don’t we have a commitment ceremony just for us?  Because all those rights and privileges married people get shouldn’t matter – it’s for you!  It’s because you’re in love!

Really?  Well, what does that leave me?

What it leaves me is acting out a farce for other people.  For a tremendous amount of money.  His mom wants it.  Wants to pay for it.  I’m thrilled by the etiquette challenges of it all.

And it would be like drinking warm water with poison in it.

Should you have an opinion on it one way or the other?

I don’t know.

On one hand, I strongly believe that people should have the right to call me a faggot and tell me I’m going to Hell and to tell me I’m destroying the family.  They can think all those things, believe all those things – that’s fine.

They can even use, and I say this quite wrongly, the reasoning that being gay is a choice, so I don’t deserve protection under the constitution.

But the problem is that choices are just what the constitution protects.  Choices like what you say, and what you believe.  You know, like religion.

But to call homosexuality a choice is laughable.  It has been demonstrated in nature in practically every animal species, there’s considerable evidence that sexuality is created in utero during a particular time of hormonal creation in the pregnant woman’s body, and besides all that – most every self-aware same-gender loving individual will tell you that they knew when they were kids, that they had an attraction to boys (or girls) as soon as puberty started firing off.  The whole idea that “gay is a choice” is idiotic.

But I digress.

The question is whether you should have an opinion, and if you should, what should it be.

I hesitate to make comparisons because you can quickly fall into reduction ad absurdum or terrible straw man arguments.

I suppose the nearest example would be interracial marriage.  There is a clear cut right there – you’re choosing to marry someone of the same race.  If a majority of the people in a state don’t like it, should it be outlawed, or defined as illegitimate?  It used to be, and I’m sure some of our southern brothers and sisters would be happy to have the old ways back again.

And you can look at this argument from slavery to civil rights, prohibition to suffrage, feminism to Roe v. Wade and so on and so forth.  Reasonable people can disagree on any of these issues.  But if you are silent, if you are passive when it’s put to a vote – then you are guilty of apathy.

In some sense, the end result should be apathy.  You shouldn’t care if I’m gay, or if I can get married, or whatever.  But we haven’t reached the end result yet.

And I would respect your decision if you think I shouldn’t be able to on religious grounds or what have you.  That you think it unnatural.

But I won’t give any ground on this: while it’s fine for you to believe it, and to say it, and to avoid getting married to a man yourself – it is not fine for me to be prevented from doing so on the civil side of this republic.  It is discrimination based on something beyond my control, and even if it was a choice, like religion, it should be (and ultimately will be) protected by the law of the land.

Imagine being silenced.  Imagine that, and imagine being told you’re disgusting and dirty and destroying the family.  Imagine being told you’re not allowed to get married.

There.

Now imagine you’re a 12 year old kid being called a fag in school.  And no one does anything about it.  Gay kids make up a disproportionate number of suicides, and it’s not really shocking.

Isn’t that something?

So.

I say I don’t care, but I do.  I do care, a lot.  Because I am very strong, and I have taken beatings and cruelty and survived in spite of and because of it.  I survive on spite.  But there are many other people who aren’t as strong as me and for something so fucking trivial as a hormone wash when you’re developing in the womb.

Well, that’s about my limit.

I suppose I’m just inelegantly describing my perspective and trying to understand with my own dim awareness their perspective.

And there you have it.

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