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*Note: this piece has been sitting in my drafts folder for almost a year. Since then the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and several more states have struck down their anti-same sex marriage laws. A lot has changed since I wrote it, but the sentiment remains. I’ve witnessed the damage that happens to gay couples because they didn’t have the legal protections afforded to their heterosexual counterparts. This isn’t about hurting straight couples. This is about protecting LGBT couples. Nothing more.
I’ve witnessed countless gay men lose everything as the families of their deceased partners swooped in like vultures, devouring everything in sight. It reminded me of the peasants picking through Scrooge’s things in the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. These family members weren’t close to the deceased. In most cases they had disowned their gay son. Some were so fearful of AIDS that they refused to come visit their son or brother in the hospital, leaving the survivor to care for his sick partner alone. — Strange. Where was their fear of HIV/AIDS when they were picking through the dead man’s belongings?
It pissed me off to no end seeing these cowards walk in after the fact and claim property simply because they were family. Where was their “Family Values” when their relative was sick??
One woman had the arrogance to tell a friend of mine that his 15 year relationship with her brother was nothing more than playing house. “My husband and I have been married for ten years,” she said. “You two may have lived together, but it was not love.” WHAT?? Was she out of her friggin mind??
One of my friends challenged his deceased partner’s family. The father, who was a lawyer, told his son’s partner, “I have infinite resources. You will go bankrupt if you try to challenge me.” My friend’s case never made it to court. He was forced to move less than a year later.
Those are just two examples of the complete disregard for and discrimination of LGBT families. Did you know it is legal to fire someone simply because he or she is Gay in 29 states? Twenty-Nine States! That’s the reason ENDA is so important. AND… Gays and Lesbians can be DENIED housing in another 29 states. What the hell!
“But what about the children?”
Yeah. Conservatives love to hold children hostage over every issue they don’t approve of. For some reason, they think legalizing Same-Sex Marriage will somehow interfere with the raising of their children. I don’t understand the resistance to educating children, in an age appropriate way, about the world around them. Besides, what of the Gay and Lesbian couples who are raising children? Where is the protection for their families?
If the foundation or your marriage so fragile that it would crumble under the weight of another couple’s happiness, I feel sorry for you.
Here’s the thing. Same Sex Marriage is a conservative idea. It’s personal liberty. It’s “Family Values”
Fifteen years ago, when the idea of Same-Sex Marriage was in it’s infancy, I may have settled for Civil Unions, but Civil Unions are NOT equal to Marriage. A Marriage grants you 1,138 federal rights, protections and responsibilities A Civil Union does not.
Depending on which state you live, it will cost you between $50 and $100 for a Marriage license. In order to acquire some of (but not all) those rights an LGBT couple must hire a lawyer and spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars. Why do I need to make a lawyer rich just to enjoy the same rights as any two strangers can get just because they said, “I Do” at a Las Vegas Drive-Thru wedding chapel?
It heartens me to see that we have accomplished so much since I first drafted this post. At this moment nineteen states and the District of Columbia have given the ‘go ahead’ to same sex marriage. We still have a long way to go, but I cannot overlook the accomplishments of just this last year. LGBTs and their allies have much to be proud of.
Happy Pride Month Everybody!
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, I thought I’d say a few words about allies.
According to Dictionary.com, an Ally is “a person who associates or cooperates with another; a supporter.”
I can only speak from my own life experience. I am a gay, while male. That is the perspective from which I see the world. When it comes to *people of color, the best I can do is empathize and remember that it’s not always about me.
❇When I say “People of Color”, I’m referring to all ethnic and/or non-white people. Essentially, the majority of people on the planet.
As a gay man, I can easily empathize with any oppressed persons. There are laws prohibiting my very existence. Anti-gay violence is everywhere. It would be easy to compare it to the horrors inflicted upon African American families throughout the history of this great, yet flawed, country of ours. But I have the luxury of never having had my family torn apart and sold as chattel. No one in my family ever risked their lives just to sit at a lunch counter. No one in my family was strung up in a tree and left to die because (s)he misspoke. None of my family was burned out of their home because they moved into a neighborhood with better schools.
Allies don’t always get it right.
The job of an ally is to support and give voice to those whose voice cannot be heard. Unfortunately, we sometimes get so caught up in our own BS that we forget to step aside and give up the spotlight.
I’ve been fortunate to have had good friends and lovers who have had the patience and fortitude to put up with my BS, and show me when and where I was wrong. I didn’t always like it. At times I was downright insulted. How dare they say I’m just as racist as…? Live and learn, right?
The point I’m trying to make is this.
When you hear black folks expressing displeasure about white folks, for any reason, remember it’s necessarily about you. It could be, but chances are they’re just trying to tell you something. All you have to do is shut up and listen.
It’s not your job to say anything. Just listen.