Lines Will Be Drawn

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.

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32 Responses to Lines Will Be Drawn
  1. Awen
    May 3, 2011 | 8:51 pm

    THANK. YOU.

  2. Ethan
    May 3, 2011 | 8:58 pm

    My feelings on gay marriage being the most important political issue for queers aside, I will do anything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen. I may not want to get married, but I’m not going to let some politician or conservative nitwit tell me that I can’t.

  3. Kristin Swanson
    May 3, 2011 | 9:01 pm

    This needs to go to the Strib. Minnpost, NPR and the Pioneer press. Bravo. My family supports yours.

  4. Miss Britt
    May 3, 2011 | 9:02 pm

    Oh, Vikki. I’m so sorry. I hate that you cried. I hate that your kids will be witness to this.

  5. Anthony
    May 3, 2011 | 10:54 pm

    Thank you for writing about this, and thank you for your candor and openness. Frankly, it pisses me off–a lot–when people who are queer complain about how much attention marriage equality gets and how it really shouldn’t be a priority. I disagree with their dismissal of marriage equality as a frivolous concern, an “issue of privilege”, and a waste of resources. In real terms and in symbolic terms, marriage equality means a lot. It’s not just about a big party. It’s not just about pretty clothes or honeymoons. It’s about all the things that you wrote about–the right to love, the right to be a family of standing according to the law, the right not to have to fight all the time for legitimacy, and the right to have marriage as a choice. Marriage has never interested me, personally. However, I will fight for you and anybody else for whom marriage does matter and is important. For me, it has nothing to do with heteronormativity or wanting to buy into bourgeois values. It’s about being able to say “I do”–because “I can.”

  6. Josie
    May 4, 2011 | 3:26 am

    The only positive that I can think of, is that you are willing to share how you feel with us and it will help parents like me to explain this to my son one day. Thank you for your honesty, I’m sorry you cried. If it’s any comfort it makes me cry too.

  7. Meg
    May 4, 2011 | 5:44 am

    I’m so sorry, Vikki.

  8. Deborah
    May 4, 2011 | 8:04 am

    Is it all the snow that makes people go bonkers in MN? I’m crying with you.

  9. deee
    May 4, 2011 | 8:12 am

    Well said!

  10. Sandi G
    May 4, 2011 | 9:55 am

    Couldn’t possibly be said any better than this. We’re gearing up to fight in NY again. You can take the MN out of your post and (insert state here) applies. Thank you for being an excellent wordsmith.

  11. rev2bebt
    May 4, 2011 | 10:13 am

    You have amazing kids with an amazing capacity for love. May you keep each other afloat in the coming struggle.

  12. e
    May 4, 2011 | 11:30 am

    It’s not just about marriage. It’s about acceptance and legitimacy. And retirement. And taxes. And being members of the community, rather than outsiders. Everyone deserves that, even us.
    Don’t be discouraged, Vikki!

  13. Shannon Ralph
    May 4, 2011 | 11:41 am

    Vikki–You should submit this to the Star Tribune. Every person in the state of Minnesota should be required to read this before they cast their vote on this amendment. It makes me cry, as well. And I fear that it is going to get ugly before all is said and done. Commercials are going to be aired on MY television in MY living room spewing hate for MY kids to see. It makes me sick to my stomach.

  14. Brian
    May 4, 2011 | 11:48 am

    I’m sure you’ve seen this, Vikki, but I’ll put it here anyway.

    http://youtu.be/hXpOA3jPC04

    Stay strong and don’t let the bastards get you down.

  15. Kelly
    May 4, 2011 | 12:27 pm

    Thank you for putting words to my same thoughts, fears, tears and dreams.
    I know the battle is coming and I must take a deep breath and brace myself so that we can get through it again.

  16. amyk
    May 4, 2011 | 1:16 pm

    “e” is right on target – it’s not just about walking down the aisle. It’s about all of the civil rights and protections that entering into a marriage contract conveys.

    I was devastated when MD did not pass marriage equality this year but your post reminds me that it can be worse.

    :|

  17. Missy
    May 4, 2011 | 2:48 pm

    Heartbreaking reality and such a well penned point of view. I love the quote in the article: “Some supporters of this amendment have promised to spend millions of dollars to ignite a new round in the culture war, fanning a spark into a flame that will spread across Minnesota. We shouldn’t be starting fires in Minnesota. We should be putting them out together.”

  18. Amy
    May 4, 2011 | 3:30 pm

    Vikki – this is incredibly well written. I agree with the others who say you should submit this to the local papers and news outlets. This should be read by many.

  19. Sara Nelson
    May 4, 2011 | 3:32 pm

    We love you, Vikki, and we will fight this stupidity. I hate the fact that the children I love will have to witness the ugliness, but they will also see how many people love them and love their families — gay, straight, bi, tran, questioning, married, not married, the whole nine yards. I didn’t believe in marriage either. But it was important to Raul and we were able to — and the past few days have been really interesting as I process what this all means to me — and what this proposed constitutional amendment means to all of us. Raul and I have other legal issues to deal with, but we were allowed to marry — and we will work to hold a mirror up to those who live in hate and in fear.

  20. TheSurpriseDyke
    May 4, 2011 | 5:09 pm

    I’m am so sorry and my heart hurts for/with you

  21. leigh
    May 4, 2011 | 6:40 pm

    i have not read all the other comments yet – thank you, that post gave me chills and tears and laughs — again thanks!
    an aside.. i posted to my wall a video of a young straight republican testifying in MN committee against the antigay marriage amendement..telling her party that her generation of young republicans does not believe in using the constitution in this way nor do they believe it is the right thing to do … so much hope for the future !
    peace & love
    leigh

  22. lizC
    May 4, 2011 | 7:19 pm

    I feel so badly for you all in Minnesota. I thought this was one state in which this matter had been settled once and for all. I hope you do consider submitting this post. It says it all.

  23. sarah k
    May 4, 2011 | 8:54 pm

    thank you for putting this into words, my thoughts and hopes exactly. may LOVE prevail!

  24. Kaitlin
    May 4, 2011 | 9:50 pm

    Oh, friend. This made me teary and sad and mad and empowered.

    You need to submit this to some bigwigs. It’s beautiful.

  25. Cat
    May 5, 2011 | 2:47 pm

    I just moved to MN a couple of months ago from upstate NY. It drives me crazy that this is going to a ballot. Civil rights should not be up to popular vote! As it’s been said before, society consistently votes the wrong way when it comes to civil issues. Women’s Rights, Miscegenation Laws, and now gay marriage.

    I don’t necessarily feel the need to get married myself (a little ambivalent about it to tell the truth) but I’m damn sure I don’t want someone telling me I’m a second class citizen so I can’t. And even more importantly, I don’t want them telling the people who for sure do want to get married that they can’t. There are too many vitally important laws (and perhaps unfortunately, a viewpoint of legitimacy) that go along with marriage to continue denying it to people any longer. The whole thing just makes me sick.

  26. Faiqa
    May 5, 2011 | 5:09 pm

    Miguel is a smart boy.
    I don’t get really upset about most political issues, but this one drives me BATTY. I just don’t understand the other side of it, and that’s kind of my thing… but, in this case? No. I just don’t get it.

  27. Sharon
    May 6, 2011 | 6:35 am

    Beautifully written. Thank you!

  28. [...] at Up Popped a Fox writes of how Minnesota’s proposed ballot initiative to ban marriage for same-sex couples [...]

  29. Ado
    May 9, 2011 | 7:36 pm

    We support you in our family. Thank you for writing such a beautiful post.

  30. Polly
    May 11, 2011 | 5:25 pm

    Oh, Vikki Vikki. Oh. As one who met the woman who would become the mother of my children in MN, my heart is sunk about as low as it can be. Because of course I’m also one who got so fucking scarred by the Prop8 battle that I’m not sure whether I’ll ever fully recover.

    When you write:

    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.

    You speak for so many of us. Like you, I walked a line on this issue. I fully believe other civil rights battles come first for LGBT people, and didn’t get hitched in CA when it first — for a few heady weeks — was possible in SF in 2004. I didn’t have kids then, and didn’t yet have to spend the thousands of dollars it would cost (and has cost since) to gain the status I’ve needed and to file the petitions I’ve had to file to REDUCE THE CHANCES (not eliminate them) that my kids would be taken from me, or that they would be prohibited from seeing me, their non-birth parent, in case of a calamity (c.f. just about every fucking case which is now known infamously by name: Julia Boseman, Janice Langbehn-Pond).

    That’s just for starters, and of course I am fucking lucky I got born into a social class and the kind of body that has made it possible for me to actually find and spend that money. Lucky, of course, is not the word. But that’s a whole NOTHER rant.

    But for the record, when we could, in CA in 2008, my partner and I had our partnership legally recognized, for the reasons Vikki cites above: to line up the state (for the moment, barely even OUR state) behind us so someone else doesn’t take my fucking kids from me, and so that all the fucking work I’ve put in since I got my first paycheck decades ago can go to my fucking partner and not a hole in the federal deficit after I die (what I learned in the month following the sudden, traumatic death of my ex’s partner taught me all I needed to know about the fiscal protections the institution of marriage provides folks).

    Do I think these rights & privileges should extend way, way past romantic partnerships? OF COURSE! I still think Lisa Duggan & Richard Kim’s 2005 piece in the Nation outlines the battle lines really well, and I’m a signatory on the Beyond Marriage statement, etc. etc. (not a famous, first-out-of-the-gate one, just one of those who signed in support some years ago & aren’t up on the web page).

    I blogged my guts out through our (California’s) battle over this (here’s a list of nearly 2 dozen of the more cogent entries), and here’s all’s I can say I learned at the end of our battle:

    you’ill never know how much the people hate you ’til you have occasion to fight to preserve your (in this case potential! future!) access to something they have and don’t want you to have;
    you’ll never know how tired the passive hetero allies are of enjoying their exclusive access to the rights they have ’til they have the opportunity to fight alongside you;
    it may never feel ideal to be battling for something that isn’t at the tippy-top of your political To Do list, but the alternative — to roll over and watch homophobes pop it into high gear and spew hate, lies, and fear into every corner of public discourse about you, and hate/lies/fear WHICH YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE EXPOSED TO — will feel even less tolerable;
    you may never find it possible to explain any of this to your kids in a way that will leave any of you feeling better about the world.

    Upside is, and it’s a skimpy one, theirs and your indignation will be righteous and mighty.

    I hate being a cynic. I really, really, really do. My ideal goal is to walk away from every moral and political challenge having found (or blazed) a path of love. But two and a half years after California’s melee over this and I still have open wounds. And here I am, in a legally recognized partnership with my partner, for Chrissakes.

  31. Polly
    May 11, 2011 | 5:27 pm

    PS Sorry about that there. Clearly the nerve that was struck is the size of, oh, THE CONTINENT OF NORTH AMERICA. I’m sure that’s the Dictionary Definition of Bogarting / hi-jacking a comment thread. Back to under my rock.

  32. ali b
    May 15, 2011 | 8:13 pm

    I don’t know that people are basically good. I think that many people are basically good, and others choose to be small and spiteful. Perhaps the best we can do is to teach our children how to actively construct their own worlds, surrounding themselves with those who choose goodness and expansiveness and curiosity and compassion and wonder…while learning how to say, with both compassion and conviction, “no thank you” to those who choose smallness and spite.

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