Shortly after we moved into our house in 1996, Luisa and I hung a rainbow flag off the front of our house. It felt like staking a claim – we were creating a home together – and every day I’d come home from work and smile as I saw that flag fluttering in the wind.
And then one day, we came home to find that the flag had been burned.
I could not believe that someone would walk into my yard and set that flag on fire, could not fathom that kind of hate. So, I stood under a cloudless sky and wondered aloud if the flagpole had been struck by lightning.
I have always had an irrational belief in the goodness of people.
This story came back to me this morning as I drove my kids to school and the conversations turned to the anti-marriage amendment once more. They talked about the most recent polls and the places they have spotted “Vote Yes” yard signs.
The discussion is inescapable.
Yes, I want to marry my partner – not because it will change our lives but because it means something to our kids. But, I also know that the anti-marriage amendment is about more than marriage. It is meant to frighten and divide us. It is meant to drive conservatives to the polls in a presidential election year. It diverts our money and attention from the real issues of poverty, housing and health care.
It is a distraction.
It distracts all of us from the the broader issues and it distracts me from my family.
That is the irony here. While people around the state talk about whether or not I should have the right to marry my partner, we are busy raising a family.
The kids need pants now that the weather has turned colder. We are out of bread. The kids have soccer practice and martial arts classes and guitar lessons. There is homework that needs to be done. We have a fundraiser for the kids’ school that we need to plan. Parent-Teacher conferences are coming up. Both kids need haircuts. There is laundry to do and we really need to clean out the fridge.
I am tired in all the ways that parents are tired. I am tired from balancing work and family. I am tired from the sleep lost when your children have insomnia or nightmares. I am tired from early mornings and late nights and trying to get everything done.
And I’m tired in ways that only some parents know. I’m tired of my relationship and family being used as political tools. I’m tired of feeling guilty because I should be doing more to fight. I’m tired of explaining anti-marriage billboards and yard signs to my children, of trying to help them make sense of bigotry. I’m tired of having to reassure my children that no matter how people vote on the marriage amendment, we will be fine. I’m tired of trying to teach my kids compassion and kindness when they see so little shown to their family.
After the election, no matter what the results, I will get up in the morning and love my partner. I will wake my kids and make them breakfast and take them to school and tell them I love them.
Nothing will change.
I will remain defiantly optimistic. I will still be the kind of person who can stand beneath a cloudless sky and believe that the flames licking at my heels are caused by lightning. Because, when I can no longer do that, when I can no longer tell my kids that people are basically good, that’s when I’ll know I’ve truly lost.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.