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Gay marriage, now only 2,500 miles away!

June 22, 2008

This is old news by now, but as of last Monday at 5:01 p.m. PDST, or more realistically Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. PDST, my boyfriend and I have the opportunity to travel a mere 2,500 miles to be legally married in the U.S. Massachusetts isn’t an option for us since we don’t have residency there, a requirement originally passed in 1913 to slow down interracial marriage that Mitt Romney brought back in 2004 to show just how classy the anti-gay rights side (or “the dark side”) can be.

New Jersey has civil unions, but those aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and when you cross state lines to a pro-marriage state, they don’t translate into marriages there, because they’re a step below. Thanks to Gov. Paterson, New York, my guy’s home state, recognizes gay marriages performed legally elsewhere (Massachusetts and California in the U.S., and a number of other countries), but not ones performed in New York.

So, for us to be legally married in his home state, and the one in which we’d both like to live, we can either drive the 370 or so miles up to Canada, or travel 2,500 miles across the country to California. (What is it with the places beginning with “Ca”?) We could also become Massachusetts residents or move to to a nicer place, like any of several countries in Europe, but frankly that would be a bit pricey, especially given the exchange rate.

Of course, even if we get there, it’s not like marriage in California is a given. Even if we just wanted a bare-bones ceremony and had the money to get plane tickets (and had the time off from work, felt we were old enough to get married, etc.), some county clerks just won’t do it. In a fun twist, some clerks in California have done rather childish things like not officiating in any weddings at all, as if gay marriage were a disease they the straight ones might catch. While I haven’t found any confirmed reports of clerks going against the law, they’re certainly being encouraged to.

The Campaign for Children and Families, which opposes same-sex marriage, has urged clerks in counties “where the man-woman marriage ethic is strongest in California” to deny licenses to same-sex couples until after the outcome of a statewide ballot initiative in November that would bar such unions.

The group’s founder, Randy Thomasson, said he had spoken with several county clerks who said they did not want to or intend to issue same-sex marriage licenses unless forced to. “They are process people, and the process is roughly being shoved aside,” Mr. Thomasson said.

Of course process shouldn’t be shoved aside for something trifling like constitutionality! I feel like I’m having flashbacks to school desegregation, which is a bit weird since I wasn’t even alive at the time. It’s more the progress-is-bad mentality that I’ve seen in plenty of documentaries on the subject of assorted Bad Ideas in History(TM).

And even in places where the marriages are being performed, there are protesters bothering people during the party. Go watch the video! You’ve got the love the guy’s logic: It’s bad because it’s illegal! (Not it’s not.) It should be illegal because it’s bad! I’m not discriminating against anyone, I just want to treat a certain group of people different due to something beyond their control which doesn’t harm anyone!

In more national news, Obama has reminded us all that while he’s all for civil unions, and he fully supports marriage in California, he’s still anti-marriage. Except in California and Massachusetts. Wrap your head around that one. Because then he turned around and used some fun right-wing rhetoric (emphasis mine) to describe his stance:

Sen. Obama said, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” shortly after being asked if he opposed same-sex marriage, to which he responded, “Yes.” This positioning is not new for Sen. Obama. He has uttered those words plenty – during a debate with Alan Keyes in 2004, on the Senate floor in 2006, even in his 2007 Human Rights Campaign candidate questionnaire.

(You can find the full text of the relevant part of the interview here.)

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say the line I’ve highlighted makes gays and lesbians everywhere shudder. It’s exactly the same language the religious right uses, and while the article notes that they’re trying to come up with a different wording, the campaign is sticking to the message. I personalIy find it ironic that you can buy a rainbow flag Obama pin, even though he doesn’t fully support gay rights. For only three dollars, you can express a willingness to settle for second-class citizenship! Or maybe the campaign will try a more honest button, like this:

A more honest Obama pin.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m voting for Obama. And of course I realize he’d never win the election if he supported gay marriage! Just like we would only consider a white man for president, and a woman could never even be a viable candidate.

In happier news, New Jersey Representative Steve Lothman recently came out in favor of gay marriage, and rather eloquently:

“Life can be short and hurtful for some,” he said. “Anytime anyone in the community speaks out against discrimination, it advances the cause of ending discrimination.”

He only had this change of heart after a lesbian step-daughter got married, but at least he had one and is actually supporting marriage, instead of pulling a Cheney and just not opposing it. (Though if I were his step-child, I would have been pretty angry he waited until after my marriage to support it.)

I suppose this means there’s some hope for the future. People can change for the better, and even those who aren’t quite there yet may be working on it. I don’t mean to sound as pessimistic as I no doubt do in this post; things are getting better, and I believe that the light side will prevail in the end. But we’re going to have to watch ourselves, not play the other side’s game, and instead just show them what having equal rights means to us, and ultimately to everyone.

And maybe wear some pins.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 23, 2008 7:40 am

    We were in Provincetown 2 years ago scoping out nice places to stay on our honeymoon (in August!) and one of the innkeepers asked why we just didn’t come to MA to get married, where it’s legal. Our response was that we live in PA and MA has the residency requirement. The innkeeper’s response was “use our address! Many out of state couples do that.

    I’m not saying you “should” do that, but apparently some people are and it works for them.

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