(Another chapter from The Brides of March)
DOMA is Apparently Not Enough
It was hard knowing that while we were celebrating our seventeen year union by getting married, our president was trying to amend the constitution of the United States to make darned sure that we couldn’t get married all over the country, and that if Multnomah County, or San Francisco, or
Massachusetts let us do it, it would be federally non-existent.
It seems like yesterday that our last president, an ironic proponent of the sanctity of marriage considering his predilection for adultery in the Oval Office, voted to pass the Defense of Marriage Act. Whether he earnestly believed that heterosexual couples were the chosen people, or he was so convinced by pollsters that the average American wasn’t ready for us to get hitched, he turned on the gay constituency he pledged to support, leaving us disappointed, but knowing he was by far the lesser of two evils.
With DOMA, I was bewildered at the lightening-fast reaction to the threat of same-sex marriage, when Hawaii dared to question whether it had a right to discriminate, and if it would pay to become the gay marriage capital of the world. States scrambled to outlaw same-sex marriage, should it try to invade their borders. And now President Bush was trying to nix that possibility for the entire nation. That this issue should mobilize people like nothing this side of nuclear war or an outbreak of Mad Cow Disease was not only shocking, it tells it like it is.
Because this is it, isn’t it? The last bastion was being scaled. Are we members of society and therefore guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness including marriage to the one we love (or like, lust after, don’t want to lose, looks good at the time, or has cool appliances, just like the rest of the population), or are we indeed perverts and beyond the pale?
I forget that to some people, we’re still these frightening Things that are after their children, to molest them, or steal them, or convert them; these individuals missing somehow that we’ve spent the last two decades becoming role models for intentional parenthood: coaching Little League, joining the PTA, fundraising for public schools, and spending megabucks at Toys-R-Us. I still see letters to the editor that read, “If we give the homosexuals marriage, they’ll want to have children next!” as if we haven’t been doing so in large numbers for years, and quite successfully according to repeated studies which indicate no discernible difference emotionally or intellectually between children raised by gay parents, and those raised by straights, except that the kids raised by gay parents tend to be more open minded about “alternative lifestyles.”
Some things have changed though since DOMA passed in 1996. The “sicko stew” the right wing cooked up for public consumption back then, that tossed us everyday gays (mowing our lawns, shopping at Costco, or driving a Subaru when we’re not watching Queer as Folk, The L-Word, or Sesame Street) in with the child molesters, the rapists, the pornographers, and, say, the Jeffrey Dahmers of the world, isn’t being served up as the main course this time. We have a compassionate, conservative opposition that doesn’t want to throw us in jail or conversion therapy; they just want to “preserve the sanctity of marriage” for God’s Chosen People.
While there are plenty of enlightened heterosexual souls out there who really do think we’re human beings, same as them, or are willing to vote as if they do, most still draw the line at marriage. Some cite centuries-old tradition (ignoring that marriage traditions vary the world over, and over time), some can’t get over the “who’s gonna wear the dress?” dilemma, and many feel that, “You can keep your jobs, keep your homes, maybe even keep your kids, but gay marriage is going too far!”
Gays themselves continue to be split on the issue. Even as we hurried off with our licenses, there were gay men and lesbians fretting in front of their televisions that this was going to set the movement back ten years, and was no part of the modern gay lifestyle anyway. It shocks me how many in our community don’t want us to push for the right to marry or are actually opposed to same-sex marriage.
No one is forcing them to marry.
The “marriage isn’t part of the gay lifestyle, it’s so bourgeois” argument may sound like Queer cutting-edge radicalism, but I suspect it’s a by-product of all that sicko stew we’ve been force-fed over the years. It’s hard to accept yourself as a worthy member of Society (with a capital S) on a steady diet of “sicko,” “faggot,” and “I wish you were dead.” It takes a toll. Sure, maybe some of us are above plebian concerns like marriage and monogamy, and have developed a more modern mode of living and celebrating love. Some of us may be counter-culture neo-pagans, and that’s why we’re tattooed to the nines and refuse to buy into the establishment. But then again, we may think “normal” was not an option we ever had. Marriage equals “normal”; the recognition that we are equal in heart, and that’s why our president is fighting against it so hard, to keep the fact that we, the people, of the United States of America, are gay and straight and lesbian and bi and those definitions are about the love between consenting adults. When we fall in love, we feel just the same, make the same commitment, and deserve the same rights and responsibilities. How can there be any question?