The headline reads ”Amendment to ban same-sex marriage moves closer to ballot in 2012” and, this time, they are talking about Minnesota. This time, the state government that is trying to legislate discrimination is my own.
For most of my life, I have been ambivalent about marriage. I grew up believing that, while love may last forever, relationships rarely do. Nearly every person in my family has been divorced at least once which instilled in me a deep cynicism about the institution itself. I never imagined myself getting married, never looked at my mother’s dress and imagined myself wearing it as I walked down the aisle. After coming out, marriage was definitely not an option anymore but I felt no sense of loss.
The truth is that not all LGBT people want marriage equality and the reasons vary. There is no hive mind in our community which is partly why we can’t actually agree on that Homosexual Agenda you hear so much about. I have friends on both sides of the issue - friends for and against – and I have managed to walk some sort of middle ground. I have always understood both sides, felt kinship with both sides, but I’ve never taken a position.
Today, as I read about the proposed amendment here, I cried. I cried a lot. I eventually pulled myself together because I had a lunch date with Zeca. As I sat in her classroom in that tiny chair and chatted with her and her friends, I realized why I had spent the morning in tears. I have never needed legal recognition to legitimize my relationship. I have never needed it to deepen my commitment to my partner. I still don’t need it but, today, I realized that I want it – not for me but for my kids.
Our kids talk about marriage often. It matters to them. Just last week, I asked Miguel why marriage equality was so important to him and he said, “Mom, it is wrong that you can’t marry the person you love. It’s just wrong.” Zeca agreed and then told me that she wants to see us get married. She believes in marriage because she believes that both love and relationships can last. And why wouldn’t she? Her parents have been together for 18 years.
When you live outside the law long enough, you begin to accept inequality. You find ways to work around it. If you have money, you hire attorneys to help you protect your relationship and family. If you don’t, you hold tightly to those you love and hope for the best. But, protecting your family shouldn’t require economic privilege or good fortune. Legal protection should be a right.
If this amendment makes it to the ballot, the fight will be an ugly one. Hateful words will flow effortlessly from the mouths of people previously considered to be reasonable and my family will be forced to bear witness to it all. Luisa and I have done all we can to protect our family legally but how will we protect our children from the war of words that will take place when our civil rights are placed on the ballot for popular vote? How many more times will I have to explain to them that such actions are born of fear and ignorance?
I have always clung to the belief that people are basically good. When my children are hurt by others, when times are difficult, this is what I tell them. I can’t help but wonder how much longer they’ll believe me when faced with so much evidence to the contrary. My only hope is that the love we share every day will teach them kindness and compassion and help them believe that love will always prevail over hate.
In the coming days, we will all need to believe that more than ever.