A few weeks ago, I was listening to my friend’s radio show on a local station as I do every morning. Surprisingly, I agree with a lot of what he rants about, even though the station is considered a “conservative” station. For the most part he takes as many shots at GOP lawmakers as he does Dems, Libs, and Islamic terrorists. On this particular day, after he was done ranting about border security, ISIL, and Putin, he touched on gay marriage. Now, I know for a fact the guy is not a homophobe, nor is he a racist. He is married to a Spanish lady, dated a black lady once, loves me to death, and is just an all around good person. I’d drink whisky, or go shooting, with him on any given day.
On that particular morning he remarked that, in his opinion, he did not agree with gay people being allowed to get “church-married” (I am paraphrasing as those two words never came out of his mouth). He went on to state that he has zero issue with civil unions, domestic partnerships, or whatever States prefer to call them. He has no issue with “us” being legally unionized in these ways and having all of the rights, privileges, and protections afforded to church-married folk. His issue lies within the confines of religion itself and the religious belief that he holds, in that a marriage is a man-woman union.
There are thousands of opinions about this, and I am not well versed enough in Bible-speak to really get into what the good book says, and what it doesn’t. I do know that whoever wrote it certainly left much open to debate in so far as translation is concerned. Much like the Founding Fathers did with our Constitution. I didn’t feel like calling in and talking on live radio about it, so I sent him an email to sort of “explain” in my opinion, why we terrorist rainbow warriors are trying to “hijack” marriage from the church. In explaining myself, I shared part of an email I recently sent to my superiors after a turbulent month within my family. I think this helps explain why, “we” are attempting to “hijack” the religious institution of marriage. The premise was that I had an issue with what the AG’s Office considered excessive absenteeism during a thirty day period. This was in response to an email sent to me that posed the question: “What is your plan of action to remedy the problem?”
The relevant portions of my response:
“Since our meeting on 7/21/2014 …… My (registered) domestic partner’s father passed away on the morning of 7/29/2014 after a brief illness. I left after lunch that day and took the following two off for the purpose of “bereavement” , but as annual leave due to the State of Florida not recognizing my partnership as being legal. In addition to this, my partner had surgery on August 7th, for which I took off August 7th and 8th, as well as August 14th and August 19th for her Post-Op procedures. These incidents, although extremely inconvenient for both myself and this agency in regard to my job duties and requirements, were unavoidable as I look at it. I am not sure what I could have done to avoid the leave taken during the last 17 work days, as all but 4.5 hours of it were due to family illness and death. If it were available to me, I would have applied for FMLA protection when I first found out about my partner’s medical issues and requirements, however, as Florida does not recognize my Leon County DP registry as being legal, an FMLA app would have been a waste of my time.
Regarding my plan of action; Since FMLA is not an option for me as Florida Statute and Agency Policy would require me to be legally married in order to apply for FMLA protection due to my partner’s medical issues, I can only confirm that there are no further surgical procedures scheduled nor anticipated for her. And fortunately, for my family, the Agency, and this Bureau, my partner’s father can only pass away one time, therefore there will be no further need for time off for that..”
Until the Florida State Legislature and/or the SCOTUS makes a final decision, we are forced into donning our rainbow turbans and pink sparkly sandals and covertly invading the religious institute of “marriage”. As the laws are written and enforced in most states, basic protections for families are only afforded to families that are “married”. Families like mine are not allowed these basic protections because we are not allowed to become legally married, which is required to procure these privileges and protections under the law in the majority of states.
There are a large number of people who feel as my friend does about gay marriage. To those people, I say- help us change the damned laws to such that a Civil Union/ Registered Partnership/ etc. is recognized by State and Federal law and that the rights and privileges afforded to all of the people that have been married in the house of the Lord, under the eyes of God, are also available to families like mine. I pay taxes. About 15% of my income. I buy school clothes. I buy medicine. I taught her how to drive, set a table the right way, say please, thank you, fuck you, and everything any good parent does But, I cannot claim her on my taxes. I cannot claim Head of Household nor EIC. For thirteen years, we have been a family. We’ve had problems, arguments, run-ins with the school board, all the shit “real” and “legal” families do.
Personally, I could not possibly give less fucks about walking my fat ass in a church-house and standing before a preacher and getting “church married”. It’s not my thing.
But, the fact is that “we” gay folks are backed into a corner by present laws. We are forced into invading the “M” word due to the fact that lawmakers, mainly conservative, right wing, GOP ones, have pushed through legislation that requires one to be “married”, in order to have certain rights and privileges. In doing so, those laws deny rights to certain citizens, and make it legal for the government to keep even the most basic liberties, immunities, and rights out of reach from gay couples.
Article 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was a clear example of Government infringement on individual rights. Its entire purpose was to preclude a certain group of citizens from obtaining the same rights and privileges that other citizens have. Essentially making it legal for State and Federal Government to discriminate against a certain group of people. Just for the sake of keeping everything “real”, DOMA passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress with backing from both parties and was signed into law by then POTUS William J. Clinton, a Democrat.
In 1824 Thomas Jefferson stated, “It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all”. Well, we resort to it for a hell of a lot more than that these days, based upon the actions of both major parties. The actions taken by our government, with heavy handed influence from the evangelical religious right, have forced us into an “attack mode” if you will. In order to gain and preserve our rights, we must attack the definition of marriage that our Government imposed two decades ago. DOMA made it possible, and more relevantly, legal, for States to pass laws against allowing gay people to become legally married/partnered. The government started this “war”. And now there is a certain faction of society that is jumping up and down like a goddamned kangaroo because Adam and Steve want to get married. And Adam and Steve are doing the same thing, because that can’t.
As a Nation, we need to pull up our pampers, and make some damned choices and compromise on this. Sometimes you have to make choices and decisions that may not be what you personally want to do, because it is the right thing to do. I feel certain that not everyone that voted to approve the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did so because it was what they personally wanted to do. It was done because it was the right and just thing to do. It was done by a group of lawmakers in D.C. that had backbone and balls, so to speak. They were not concerned with pandering to any pulpit, nor TV camera. Actions that today’s Congressional members are clearly unable to muster.
Our desire to become “legal” families is not rooted in any desire to destroy a long standing religious institution. It is simply a desire to formalize and legalize our families, so that we are on equal footing with the rest of the field.