Friday, April 19, 2013

On Gay Marriage

I'm all for open minds, but for me, there are few issues on which there can be no debate. For me, gay marriage is one of these. My sister is gay.  And I think she deserves every right I do. She is not "less than" because of who she loves. Let me say that again, because of who she LOVES.  Are we even debating love now? In a time where we are torn apart by ire, and vitriol, and hate?  Are we so consumed by limiting who can LOVE?

But aside from my familial connection, I think every human being deserves equal treatment -- medical and retirement benefits; tax deductions; the right to visit the one you love, unfettered, in a hospital; the right to raise children together; even the right to disagree, dissolve, and divorce.  I don't think there are a separate set of rules for certain segments of the population based on who you love. Period.

My friends, the Gay Lawyer and his husband the Gay Historian (and their baby, the Most Beautiful Child in the World), have been together for more than two decades and adopted their son not quite two years ago.  WH and I (and our parents and siblings) are their extended family. They got married years ago, but recently asked me to be the witness during their legal ceremony (which is particularlly poignant considering that GL performed WH's and my wedding ceremony).  I have been christened Auntie Mame (Auntie Mean, as WH callls me) and WH, Amoo (apparently reflecting our love for Broadway and Iranian heritage, respectively). My parents are Nonni and Ace (Italian and fiercely cool, respectively), surrogate grandparents to the baby.  There is Padrino and Cha Cha, and so many others who love that little boy as if he was our own.  Their village, our village, is raising that child -- a child who is so loved, and so spoiled, and so very happy.

Today, I received an invitation to the wedding of my favorite teacher to her partner of more than 20 years.  My teacher who taught me to read (nay, to LOVE reading), taught me confidence, taught me that we are all something special. My teacher with whom I danced with at my own wedding. She taught me in first and third grades, and for more than 30 years we have kept in touch. My teacher who never thought she would be getting married . . . because it wasn't a possibility -- only now it is.

Two people who love each other committing to be together forever with all the protections available under the law.  Except that under the law, they don't have the same protections as the rest of us.  Sure, in a few states and D.C., they have more rights than in others, but when we look at the full cohort of protections, they are woefully shortchanged. And this is why we have the cases currently pending before the Supreme Court. I hold great faith in our institutions. I know how our country has evolved on civil rights throughtout the years, thanks to pioneers like Thurgood Marshall and Susan B. Anthony and Mildred and Richard Loving (isn't there something so poetic about the pioneers for interracial marriage having the last name Loving?) and the incredibly courageous Edith Windsor.

As my WH likes to put it, equality doesn't just apply to your group, it applies to all groups.  And if you're going to fight for equality, you need to fight for all equality, not just your own.  I know we're close to a time when there's equality for GLBTQ people under the law. I know our country is ready for it, whether they know it or not. And I sincerely hope that when the next marginalized group comes forward, that we are as passionate about defending their rights as we are now, that the side of right is as it was in 1954 (or any other time in history when vulnerable citizens needed us the most). I believe in this country, and I believe that the time for equality, true equality is NOW.

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