Friday, July 16, 2010

Don't Cry For Me, Argentina!

This week, Argentina legalized same-sex marriage. Argentina?! Latin America?! I can understand countries in Europe legalizing same-sex marriage before we do…particularly the Scandinavian countries that are historically progressive. I can understand Canada making the move before we do....Canada has always seemed kind of like our slightly cooler little sister to the north (come on...who didn't think Dudley Do-Right was the coolest dude ever?!). But what sort of backwards, Puritanical country do we live in that we would allow Latin America…the Land of 10,000,000 Catholics... to outpace us on issues of social progressiveness?! I don’t get it.

I admit it. I want to get married. When I was younger, I blew it off and said “I don’t care.” I was happy being outside the mainstream. I considered myself a rebel…albeit the most benign rebel you’d ever meet. Today, however, I freely admit that I want to get married. I want to marry Ruanita. And I don’t want to do it as some sort of social statement. I want to marry her for the same reason most people want to get married. I love her. We have built a life together. We have the house and the kids and the cat. We have everything a married couple has…with the exception of the title. Today, I am feeling rather prickly, so I thought I would climb up on my soapbox and take a little time to deconstruct the arguments against same-sex marriage. So here we go….

1. It will weaken the institution of marriage. Really? The current divorce rate sits at 50%. I think straight people are doing a pretty smash-up job of weakening the institution of marriage all on their own. Here's the crazy part to this argument….Ruanita and I are already together. We are already living the married life, regardless of lacking the actual stamp of approval from the government. We pay taxes. We have a mortgage. We have children in the public school system. We are living as a married couple in every way and are contributing members of our community. If we haven’t destroyed the state of marriage yet, how would a legal endorsement of our relationship change that? Today, any guy off the street can go to Vegas, pick up a stripper in a bar, and marry her the same day. And my 12-year committed relationship is a threat to the sanctity of marriage? That argument just seems ludicrous.

2. Gay people lead an immoral lifestyle. Hmmmmm…I wish! Ruanita and I are practically nuns. Seriously…we are the most boring, NON-immoral people you are ever going to meet. We don’t smoke. We don’t use recreational drugs. We don’t gamble. We don’t steal or cheat. We don’t have sex in public places. We only drink socially. We don’t covet our neighbor’s wives. I admit to coveting my neighbor’s tulips…but that’s about it. For years, my sisters have referred to us as the “grandmas.” And it’s fitting. Most Saturday nights, you will find us sitting on the couch, an afghan covering our laps, eating Chinese take-out and watching a movie. Does it get any more geriatric and non-threatening than that?!

3. The bible says that gay people are an abomination. OK…first and foremost, I respect the bible as much as the next lesbian, but come on. Is it really Christ-like to call another human being an “abomination?” Like I was taught in elementary school, God doesn’t make junk. I think the whole religious argument is pretty much moot anyway. Though Christianity is the dominant religion in the United States, we have such a multitude of people here from all different religious backgrounds. Because of the vastly different beliefs that make up the American population, religious ideals should have no influence whatsoever on policy or law. Remember the separation or church and state, people? Of course, I am not naive enough to think that we are all going to get along. I realize that there are more than a few religious zealots out there who believe that God is an angry, punishing God. There are those who take the 2000-year-old writings of the bible literally and use them to oppress other people. And yes…these people are active in politics. But here’s the thing…. they don’t want me getting married in their church. And I don’t want to get married in their church. So really, we are on common ground. I am not asking them to change their beliefs. I am not asking to invade their churches. Jesus may have cast the degenerates from the temple, but I have no desire to do that. They can have their temple. I don’t want it. I just want a civil marriage. They can sit in their church pews and smile smugly, certain in their belief that I am going to hell. That’s perfectly fine with me. I simply want the right to marry the person I love. And I promise not to do it in their church.

4. Children should be raised in a home with a mother and a father. This really isn’t an argument against gay marriage, per se. However, there are so many GLBT people raising children outside of the legal protections afforded by marriage that I think it is a relevant argument to address. Firstly, it is ridiculous to think that most children are being raised in a household with a mother and a father these days. One simply has to look at the 50% divorce rate to know without a doubt that children are being raised by single parents all over this country. And that doesn’t take into account all of the children whose parents never got married. Since I assume the people making this argument do not intend to remove all of these children from their homes, I will optimistically conclude that their argument is more about providing safety and security to our children. That’s certainly a noble sentiment. However, I think these people are misguided in their assertion that only a mother and a father can provide this security. My children have two moms. Since Ruanita and I can’t exactly have an “accident” baby, all three of our children were planned for and desperately wanted (well…actually, twins were a bit of a surprise, but we adjusted). We had support networks in place. We had our finances worked out. Our children have enjoyed absolute safety and security since the day they were born. One look at their smiling faces and you can see that they are secure in their place in our family…and in this world. We are raising three happy, healthy kids. Can you honestly look at my children and say that they are worse off emotionally and psychologically than the child born accidentally and unwanted to the young, jobless teenaged parents? If these people who are singing the praises of a household with a mommy and a daddy were really concerned about the welfare of children, they would support gay marriage. They would support ALL families….mothers, fathers, grandparents, gay, lesbian, and straight...anyone and everyone willing to take on the grueling task of raising our next generation. Regardless of those who want to pretend it is not happening, gay people are raising children in every single state in this great nation. I have the good fortune of living in Minneapolis, a city that allows second-parent adoption. Therefore, my children are lucky enough to have two legal parents. Many, many children being raised by gay couples are not afforded that security. Gay marriage would allow us to protect our children in the same way that the children of straight people are protected. By not allowing gay marriage…and in many places, refusing second parent adoption…our government is sentencing our children to an uncertain future.

Think about it. Picture a committed gay couple living in Kentucky…my home state. Let’s say the couple has been together 12 years and has three children, just like Ruanita and I. Because they live in Kentucky, they were not allowed to do a second-parent adoption. Therefore, the birth mother is the only legal parent of those children. Let’s say that the unthinkable happens and the birth mother contracts cancer and eventually dies. Chances are, her partner will not be allowed to make decisions for her in her final hours. She may not even be allowed to see her. Her partner and the children she raised since birth are not eligible to receive any of the birth mother’s social security benefits. More than likely, the family will lose their house and have to move. The birth mother’s disapproving family could swoop in and seek custody of the children. Because the non-biological mother was unable to marry her partner or adopt her own children, the birth mother’s “born-again”, hate-mongering brother…the very brother who did not acknowledge the birth of any of his sister’s children….could very easily take her children away from her. The children could be sent to live with an uncle they have never met…an uncle who has nothing positive to say about their moms. Not only will this woman have lost her partner and love of her life, but also her home and the children she loved before they were even born. If this does not sound like a travesty to you, then you have no heart. And this is not a fairy tale that I created in my pessimistic little mind….it is happening every day. These stories may not make the headlines, but that doesn't mean they aren't important. How is this protecting children? How is this providing security to our most vulnerable?

OK…wow…I think that was my longest soapbox rant to date. Please excuse my venom. It’s just an issue that hits close to home with me. I guess I never realized how much I really do want to get married. Hmmm…I suppose my rebellious days are over. That’s ok…I was kind of a sucky rebel anyway.


Cate said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I just don't understand why there are people out there who want to deny loving couples the right to marry. Boggles the mind.

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