a little east of reality

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I thought today's post would be about obama

I wanted to celebrate his election to President of the US. Exciting news. Instead I find myself in a bit of a blue funk, because in a state far away, a decision was narrowly made to eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry. This post would be a lot longer than it already is if I explained fully why this angers and disappoints me and I've said a lot of it before anyway. Instead I just want to focus on one aspect of the matter: family.

A few days ago I received a forward from a friend (here in Australia) with a link to a Youtube video of a song written by Janice Kapp Perry in support of the Yes on 8 campaign. JKP music is a little dated now in Church circles, but back when her songs were new I really liked them. They were beautiful and melodic, and easy to remember and sing. I actually felt spiritually uplifted when I listened to them. Unfortunately in this case, I got a bad feeling the moment I saw the text accompanying the link in the email:

Dear Members

Please have a listen to this lovely song from Janice Kapp Perry. On YouTube, things spread like wildfire across the Internet. To get our message out about the importance of families and marriage, we have written a song called, 'Save the Family' which we have produced into a powerful music video.

Click below to see it and feel the magic and importance of families. Here's the link for the music video.
It's here. Feel free to go listen to it before you continue reading.

The song should have been wonderful. Families are precious. They are the building blocks of society. Without strong families the nation will crumble. But the moment I saw those words, 'our message about the importance of families and marriage' I knew that I wasn't going to hear a song written in support of families and marriage, but instead a message about 'saving' one type of family by invalidating another.

I am sitting at my desk in a very empty office right now and that's kind of how I feel inside. 'Dear Members'. That's addressed to me. I'm a 'member'...and that used to feel like such a good thing to me. Even recently as I've been re-examining my religion, it didn't feel bad to be a member of the Church. But when I got that email I felt so angry.

That is not OUR message. That is not MY message.

Who do they think 'we' are under attack from? How exactly does same-sex marriage diminish their marriages? Is it like some kind of exclusive club, where membership only has value if you keep the numbers small? But the song isn't actually talking about marriage; it's talking about families. If I call Scot and his husband and their twins a family, explain how I'm being inaccurate. When I go home to visit I inevitably spend a lot of time with one of the most vibrant (read: NOISY!) families I know, parented by two lovely women. We play cards and catch up and their crazy brood (most of whom I've known since they were born) tire me out with their stories and questions. I like being there. They're precious to me. And never once have I sat in their lounge watching the general hubbub around me and thought, 'gee, such a shame they're not a real family'.

How dare anyone try to declare that there is only one valid kind of family? How dare they look at children with parents who love them, and declare their families to be a threat to what is good and wholesome? There've been a lot of comparisons in the last few months to racism, segregation and laws that banned inter-racial marriage. The comparisons are fair. People used to look at an inter-racial couple and believe that there was something inherently wrong with them being together. And what they didn't understand, they legislated against.

There was a time when I really believed that homosexuality was a sin. I hate admitting that, but it's the truth and it's relevent here. I was in that 'hate the sin, love the sinner' frame of mind and I saw it in the same vein as people who 'lived in sin' instead of getting married - I didn't think it was right, but it never stopped me being friends with anyone.

One day at a friend's house I heard a very sad story (not uncommon in the gay community, especially when you go back a few years) about a woman whose partner had died. Because they weren't married (at that time couldn't even legally be considered to be a de facto couple) her partner's family was able to successfully shut her out of the funeral (not just the arrangements...the actual funeral) and eventually force her out of the house she and her partner had shared. They did not choose to acknowledge her part in the life of their daughter/sister. Instead they treated their family, the one they built together by choice, as if it never existed. As much as they could, they rendered it invisible, unimportant.

As I listened to this story, I knew right then that no matter what I thought about homosexuality, I had to support the right to same-sex marriage. I don't get to choose who can and can't be a family. I don't get to tell consenting adults that my opinions matter more than their relationship. 'I don't live that way, so you can't either' is a piss-poor way to treat other human beings.

I saw a short speech on Youtube by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders from back in 2007 when he was explaining his decision to support a same-sex marriage bill (after previously saying he would veto it). It was so beautiful I sent him an email. :)

Here's an excerpt:

As I reflected on the choices I had before me last night, I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community that they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage...

Two years ago I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative. Those beliefs in my case have changed. The concept of a 'separate but equal' institution is not something I can support...

I have close family members and friends who are a member of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa, as well as members of my personal staff. I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones - for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back; someone with whom they can grow old together and share life's experiences.

And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I couldn't look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship - their very lives - were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana.
To make people...couples...families...invisible in the law is to deny that they are people of equal standing. These are real families. They can't be put away like an ugly vase or avoided like bad news you don't want to hear. No matter what you think you see when you look at them, you are not supposed to treat other people that way.

So to Janice Kapp Perry and anyone in California who thinks they saved 'the family' with their fucking bullshit Yes on 8 vote, I want to say that I DO NOT accept your limited definition of family and I DO NOT support your derision for other people's families. I DO, however, think you suck.

Labels: , , , , ,