July 9, 2010

My Big Fat 2nd Class Marriage.

Jim Crow is alive and well in the USA. By that, I mean there are still 2nd class citizens in this country who are not seen as equal to everyone else in the eyes of government. I’m one of them. Yes, I’m talkin’ about fags. So I’m officially coining the phrase “Judy Crow” to describe this kind of discrimination. Use it all you want.

Now, I know I’m gonna come under fire for comparing the gay experience in America with the African American experience. So fire away, but please hear me out first.

Remember after Hurricane Katrina when Kanye West said George W. Bush didn’t care about black people on national television? I screamed out loud in delight when I saw it. While perhaps ill-informed on Kanye’s part, that statement was absolute truth hitting a bull’s eye with laser-like precision, striking at the heart of government hypocrisy with the mind-stopping thwack of a Zen master’s stick. Wait, wait! Ima let you finish, but first, here’s another thwack for ya.

The government hates fags.

That’s the only logical conclusion I can come to with my logical brain, as a logically thinking citizen. Sometimes 1+1 does, indeed, equal 2.

I was “married” to my “husband” last July in Boulder. We just had our first anniversary on the 4th. He gave me a lovely book on C.G. Jung. I gave him a cold sore. But that’s neither here nor there. I put the words “married” and “husband” in quotes because, according to legal definitions, we are neither of those things to one another.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) denies fags like me and my “husband” access to federal programs as a “married” couple that opposite-sex spouses/partners have enjoyed for many decades. These programs represent safety nets my “husband” and I might depend on as a married couple as we plan our lives and future together, as we deal with hard times and possibly raise children together (it could happen). Frustratingly, he and I are denied access to these federal programs even though we are footing the bill as taxpayers for many of them.

This country fought a revolution because of the affront to liberty that is taxation without representation. Remember? If anyone should be having Tea Parties, it should be homos! At least the ones who’d like to get hitched.

Here’s a partial list of the federal programs I’m referring to:

1. Social Security spousal protections that ground a family’s economic security while living in old age, and upon disability and death;

2. protections for one spouse’s essential monetary resources and the ability to stay in the family home when the other spouse needs Medicaid for nursing home care;

3. the ability to be included in a family policy of health insurance, and if receiving that family health insurance, to be free of income tax on the value of that insurance;

4. the ability to use the “Married Filing Jointly” status for federal income tax purposes that can save families money;

5. family medical leave from a job to care for a seriously ill spouse;

6. disability, dependency or death benefits for the spouses of veterans and public safety officers;

7. estate/death protections that allow a spouse to leave assets to the other spouse – including the family home – without incurring any taxes; and

8. the ability of a citizen to obtain a visa for a non-citizen spouse and sponsor that spouse for purposes of citizenship.

The list goes on. And guess what, citizens… this goes for those same-sex couples who are currently legally married in states like Massachusetts and Connecticut as well.

My experience shows me that we’ve educated ourselves about faggotry enough in this great country to have reached a critical mass of understanding, sensitivity and compassion. We’re smart enough not to deny people rights because of who they are. A critical mass of the citizenry seems to be on board with this idea, thanks in no small part to a little thing called…

The Civil Rights Movement.

So again, a logical examination of the facts leads to the unequivocal conclusion that the government hates fags. If it walks like Judy Crow and quacks like Judy Crow…

Then there’s the “Christian Right” (again, in quotes because it is neither of those things). Members of this cult would have us believe that DOMA is about defending the institution of marriage. From what, you ask? Why, fags, of course! Silly intelligent, thoughtful person!

Back in March, the Maine Family Policy Council had this to say about same-sex marriage and faggotry in general:

“Maine people twice rejected ‘gay’ rights in the past decade. Homosexuality is very sad, and sinful. Maine must not create a culture that winks at something so debilitating on so many levels. To present this ‘orientation’ as benign to impressionable children is the height of arrogance, and surely qualifies as evil.”

Sad, sinful, debilitating, arrogant, evil… Are they describing faggotry or British Petroleum?

I look at my own life and I don’t see any of these things in it. Well, maybe arrogance. But fuck them! I am better than they are!

In 2005, the Illinois Family Institute, along with Peter LaBarbera’s Americans For Truth About Homosexuality declared “war” against the “pro-sodomy movement” and its “crimes against nature” by launching its Protect Marriage Illinois campaign (website apparently no longer exists). As part of this campaign, these Christian soldiers actually chastised the religious right for not being hateful enough.

“It is high time for pastors, in Iowa and across the land, to shake off their stifling, politically correct timidity and again become the prophetic voices for Truth they were called to be: by boldly warning Americans – Christian and non-Christian alike — about the perils of our growing accommodation with the sins of proud homosexuality, and sex outside marriage in general.”

I’ll ignore the ridiculousness of the idea that it’s even possible to tackle ‘sex outside marriage in general’ for now, but let’s give that phrase “pro-sodomy movement” some careful consideration. As with the so-called “Culture Wars,” if there is a “pro-sodomy movement,” I never got an invitation to join up. And trust me. I would have been a charter member of that movement, carrying the banner at every Veteran’s Day Parade.

Bitches, please. There’s no more a “pro-sodomy movement” in this country than there is a “pro-vaginal sex movement,” or a “pro-rusty trombone movement,” or a “pro-latex and PVC movement.” These things aren’t “movements” at all. They’re just things some people like and others don’t. Get over it.

But back to sodomy… Do members of the “Christian Right” really think that people haven’t been taking it up the butt since Jesus invented humans as humans and not as monkeys? As a man, I can attest to the fact that there are very few things in this world that men haven’t tried putting their dicks in. Given the sheer variety of potential vessels waiting to be filled out there, a butt just doesn’t seem to warrant this kind of outrage now, does it?

Judy Crow has always been in place in the USA. More and more, though, it appears a lot of people are willing to codify discrimination against me and my LGBT brothers and sisters in a serious way by amending state constitutions across the land, prohibiting same-sex marriages and other rights most other people enjoy. The only time an amendment that expressly denied citizens a specific right was ratified to the U.S. Constitution was during Prohibition. And we all know what a rousing success that was.

Like her twin brother, Jim, Judy Crow is the ugly bastard ass-baby of right-wing Christianity and Congress, christened by the Executive and raised to adulthood by the courts. Oh, and mainstream media gave her a full-ride scholarship to Liberty University, too.

Let’s forget the whole “taxation without representation” thing for a moment. I’ll even put aside my own woundedness around being called icky names by “Christians.” I simply do not understand why my husband and I elicit such vitriol and venom from so many people.

I love my husband more (some days) than I love myself. Prior to last July 4th, I wanted nothing more than to be married to him. I have that now, and it contributes greatly to my happiness. I want to protect him and I want to be protected in our marriage as well. Every day our love for one another deepens and matures in ways I didn’t know were possible. We’re happy and we’re sad together. We’re loving and we’re distant with one another. We take care of each other and we can be thoughtless sometimes. I bet my opposite-sex readers would say they experience the same things in their marriages.

My husband and I are not unique. We both work for a living, we both come home at the end of the day and wonder how the house got so messy, we both eat, we both sleep, and we both fart and scratch ourselves in the comfort and privacy of our own home. We’re good citizens. We contribute good things to the world. We vote regularly. We endeavor to be helpful instead of a hindrance. Our families love us and we love them.

In a way, we’re just two boring white guys who live together and have two dogs. So why does the “Christian Right” feel the need to obsess on penises in buttholes when they think of us? I don’t immediately imagine a man’s penis sliding in and out of his wife’s vagina when I come across a straight couple. Not every time anyway.

The whole thing is just silly. Seriously silly.

And I hate to break it to all the Christian soldiers out there, but there are more same-sex couples tying the knot formally or informally in the USA than they dare imagine. The same-sex marriage train has left the station. They can call it whatever they want. What my husband and I have is a marriage. I defy anyone to spend any time with us and tell me it’s not.

As Joni Mitchell famously sang, “We don’t need no piece of paper from the city hall keepin’ us tied and true.”

Do I wish we had that piece of paper? Yes.

Do I also know people in hell would like snow cones? Yes, I do. I try to bring some with me every time I visit.

So Judy Crow and my 2nd class marriage present me with yet another opportunity to work with disappointment. I bow to them as my teachers. Christian soldiers across the land are about to get the same kind of opportunity. It’s just a matter of time.

If you are open-minded and open-hearted about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in general, and same-sex marriage in particular, I would like to thank you. I don’t think most of you realize how much your presence impacts the people, the communities and the culture around you. I count you among my family of choice.

Today we look back on Jim Crow laws in the South and wonder how Americans ever lived in such a horrible reality. Things change. We’re all connected. I am not alone. That’s the heart of the Buddha and that’s the heart of my family.

If you are looking for ways to walk this path in your life, I encourage you to question political candidates at all levels of government regarding their stance on issues like same-sex marriage and equal rights for all citizens. Hold their feet to the fire. It’s what they signed up for. My husband and I ask that you support us and all gay and lesbian couples in the United States by monitoring and backing efforts in your own states to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, granting the same rights to our LGBT brothers and sisters that our straight brothers and sisters enjoy. You can do this by calling or emailing your state representatives as well as your Congressmen and Women in Washington to demand equal rights for everyone.

I love you all. Let’s make out real soon.

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