A few times in recent years I've been asked why I get emotional about marriage equality. There's typically a zest gap: the other person is rational, I'm on the verge of berserker rage. For my part, it's a mix of religion and accrued anecdotes. Let's start with anecdotes:
1985 - The Times of Harvey Milk
Saw this documentary when it aired on PBS. The existence of gay people was still a foreign concept to me (so was going outside, or a city with more than 100,000 people in it). But Harvey Milk's story was a moving one. This film stuck in my head, although it did not save me from being a dipshit (see below).
High school & college
In high school I had a close friend who had a strong gay vibe. Yet he was dating girls. Our 16-18 year-old brains thought it was so funny that people kept thinking he was gay. This was an ongoing joke for years. "Ha ha, you are so not gay, yet people keep calling you gay. Isn't that hilarious?" You can see where this is going.
In college I had another friend who had a strong gay vibe. Yet he also dated girls. Similar thing, but with the extra smarm that early college years can bring. Whispering/hissing cattily to my friend things like: "Ha! I feel so gay around you" during errands in the grocery store. This was the pinnacle of wit, as he was not gay, right?
In both cases, both friends eventually came out as gay in their late teens or early twenties. Thankfully. Knowing that for years I was a close friend to each yet part of an environment that reinforced that gayness was wrong, that I was part of the sense of oppression, still has me ill at ease decades later.
Eugene, Oregon - Kinko's, 1992
On the Oregon ballot in 1992 was Measure 9, a vile piece of hateful shit from the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA). For openers:
This state shall not recognize any categorical provision such as "sexual orientation," "sexual preference," and similar phrases that include homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism. Quotas, minority status, affirmative action, or any similar concepts, shall not apply to these forms of conduct, nor shall government promote these behaviors.
The two point people, Lon Mabon and Scott Lively, were pervy-looking dudes. As you can guess, there was propaganda equating homosexuality to dog fucking, child molesters, and an intense preoccupation with other people's sexual activities. These hate-mongering ding-a-lings mentioned "water sports" in the Oregon Voters Guide as something homosexuals like to do. I had to ask around what that meant. Thanks for making the Voters Guide into pornography, guys!
The Kinko's store I worked in was chock full of smarty pantses struggling to find jobs because of those Reagan and Bush sonsofbitches. Taking a tally of staff members, more than half were homosexual or bisexual. A socially awkward guy, this made my dating prospects dim.
We were fired up about Measure 9. Some of us started wearing buttons at work. The manager, a lesbian, initially and sensibly disapproved. Why should a copy shop get involved in politics? The Kinko's store was one of the few left in the U.S. still owned by an individual. We had decent relations with the owner. The Anti-Measure 9 campaign was a significant store customer. The vibe reached a point where we asked the manager if we could make buttons for free for that campaign. Finally, happily, she said yes. That was a triumphant feeling.
Measure 9 failed (Fuck off, OCA!). As did the
similar Measure 13 years after (double fuck off, OCA!). Then when the ballot measure numbers
cycled around, a new anti-gay Measure 9 failed yet again (many people
still had their '92 anti-Measure 9 bumper stickers - handy! Also: triple fuck-off, OCA!).
Disappointingly, in 2004 Oregon voters passed a "one man, one woman" definition of marriage still in Oregon's books. Scott Lively is now part of anti-gay hate
fomenting in Uganda the last few years, and people are dying because of
it. No doubt Lively travels with a Bible.
Religion & embarrassment in history
The Bible is not a good source of morality. Both the Old and New Testaments are cited by anti-gay groups bashers as why homosexuals are sinners. The Bible was used to justify anti-miscegenation (mixed-race) laws. Both the Old and New Testament justify slavery. If that shoddy book cannot get right the easiest moral issue we have: whether we can own another human as property, what moral authority can it claim?
the Bible is also used to justify ignorance more broadly. Those denying climate
change likely rely on the Bible for their views. The Bible gets so much wrong
about science and the nature of reality it's stupefying. It doesn't
even reference lands beyond the middle east. Or understand diseases,
thinking them curses instead or caused by demon possession. It's so embarrassing on these matters that
most Christians have learned to largely ignore the bulk of its
assertions on almost everything, focusing on a few lapidary phrases that reality hasn't entirely laughed away yet. Bible-thumpers are behind the misogyny trying to legislate what women
should and should not be able to do with their own bodies. Women-as-chattel
is throughout the Bible and the Koran.
in magic books, magic institutions, or magic people always leads to
trouble. It is a grave embarrassment to our species to take ultimate
moral and scientific authority from an Iron Age compendium of
shoddy writing repeatedly tampered with and clearly written by
primate (not holy) hands. As we laugh at the ignorance of previous generations, so the future will
laugh at us.
never looks kindly on restricting the civil rights of citizens. We will eventually grant the right to marriage to all
adult citizens, why delay it? Banning same-sex marriage is anti-family. Anti-gay laws block family hospital visits, family medical decisions, child custody,
inheritance. Those laws hurt people. For no reason. "Marriage is about making
babies!" Bible-thumpers yell. Then take away marriage from
childless couples and old people. "Marriage is a sacred rite!" Sorry,
but marriage carries federal and state rights and privileges.
has happened in states and countries that have marriage equality?
Other than an occasional bigoted flip-out at the start: nothing. Gay marriage is boring there. Why? Because gay people are boring, like we straight people are boring. It is no fucking big deal to have it around!
along with the case against marriage equality being morally and
metaphysically so fucking stupid, I get angry because we all will get
there, the end result is within sight. Let's get it done and chill
out! I feel embarrassment for our country and our species that it hasn't
happened yet. I want to stop having to explain to my kids why some of our
neighbors and friends can't get married.