Monday, April 1, 2013

This Symbol Means I Support Marriage Equality, Not That I Love Bacon

There have been a number of times in my past when I wished I was gay. Most of these times coincide with being hit on by a hot, accomplished, funny female and wondering why I can’t simply be attracted to her.

But never in my life had I wanted to be gay more than last week.

See, last week, as you all know, the Supreme Court heard arguments to strike down both Proposition 8 in California and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Like so many others, I changed my Facebook profile picture to the red equals sign.

And so did my sister.

And so did my brother.

When my father logged onto Facebook that afternoon, he asked me why all three of his children had the same profile picture. I explained the meaning to him and this set off a firestorm.

In hindsight, I probably should’ve said it was to show how much we all love bacon or something equally uncontroversial.

My father than posted to my sister’s and brother’s pages, voicing his disapproval of their pictures (he never actually said he didn’t like my mine, but that could simply be because he is used to me doing things like this), stating he disagrees with marriage equality and isn’t happy with their decision to support it.

This broke my heart.

Because my father is a good man. He’s a crazy, gun-toting, Fox News watching conservative, but he’s a good man.

And I know if I went home this weekend and told him I was a lesbian and had met someone and wanted to marry her, he would be 100 percent supportive. He would walk me down the aisle, give me away to my wife, toast the two of us at our reception, and love and spoil our children.

And there would be one less person out there supporting DOMA and Prop 8 and discrimination against the LGBT community.

Unfortunately, I am not gay and, like so many others, my father can’t make the jump from his children’s happiness to the happiness of other’s children.

We hear it all the time., We've heard it in the recent rape cases: What if it were your daughter or sister or mother? Well, so what if it’s not? Does that make rape any less heinous? Because it isn't happening to someone you love it is okay? Because your child is straight and legally allowed to marry and divorce as many times and he or she sees fit, you don't care if your neighbor’s child has the same right?  

I would like to believe that even if I didn't know a single gay person, I would still have changed my profile to the red equals sign. I can't know for sure, because I have a number of people in my life who I love and call friends who happen to be gay. And, while I know my changed profile picture will have zero impact on how the Court votes, I still changed it to show my friends, loved ones and strangers that I think it is pretty shitty that I can go out tomorrow and marry some random stranger, meanwhile they can't marry their partners of many years.

I only hope one day my father will feel the same way. And that it won't take having a gay grandchild to make him change his mind.


Anonymous said...

A. My friends are gayer than an episode of "SMASH" but that's no reason to change my FB profile pic, especially now that I finally have one I like (so hot).

B. Your father could walk you down the aisle at your lesbian wedding and still not agree with government redefinition of the term.

Example: I love opium but really, most people should not try it.

C. Everyone in my facebook feed becomes a constitutional scholar a couple times a year, and it's really insufferable.

Tatiana said...

A. I'm not judging folks who didn't change their profile pictures, but just an FYI, you can always change your profile picture back to your hot one. I just did.

B. You're right, he could do all of that without changing his mind. But I believe, if the issue hit home, he would change his mind like this Republican congressman.

I'm not really sure how your example applies, but okay.

C. I didn't become a constitutional scholar. I swear. I just changed my profile picture. And it pissed off my father. And that made me sad.

Anonymous said...

A. Meh. Too much work. Plus, I'm not much of a joiner.

B. Why must he change his mind? Is it important to you that he agree with your whole platform, or just this issue?

Here's how the example applies: He would celebrate at your wedding and accept your wife as his family, but he would not necessarily think it's a great idea for the government to officially sanction such unions, due to repercussions that are usually unforseen (example: a church that gets sued because it refuses to host ssm weddings).

C. Your father should not get mad at you for any political beliefs you hold. But your viewpoint seems to be rather condescending and flatly wrong. You can't reconcile his "goodness" with a public policy position he holds. Unsaid is the apparent truth that anyone who is "good" must also hold the same political beliefs as you.

Imagine for a moment your father saying, "I love you, and I know you're a good person. That is why it is so distressing to me that you hold such regressive, paranoid, and out-dated opinions when it comes to the 2nd Amendment. I know you're not heartless, so why would you want the most vulnerable among us to be at the mercy of violent criminals. Here, read these articles. Don't be so close-minded. I am praying that you see the light."

Tatiana said...

A. Okay then.

B. Just this issue. I know I’m never going to change his mind about guns or abortion or whether or not a person should have a higher tax burden based on their income. But this issue really seems like a no-brainer to me. What business is it of the government if two men want to marry each other? Or two women? I’m not about to play constitutional scholar (because I know that that upsets you) but it seems to me that is none of the government’s business. Defining marriage as only existing between a man and a woman leads to discrimination. And since discrimination is a bad thing, something we try to prevent through laws and stuff. seems pretty simple to me you wouldn’t want laws sanctioning discrimination.

C. The whole point of the post is that my father did get mad at me. And my sister. And my brother. Instead of disengaging (as I’m sure a number of my friends who don’t share my opinion did) he chose to respond to the changes in our profile pictures. And you are right – I believe people who don’t support marriage equality are less good. I don’t believe this about all of my opinions – in fact, I believe people who believe in god are better than me – but on this issue, if you can stand there and say two men, who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together can’t make it official and share the same rights and perks a married man and woman enjoy (including tax breaks), I think you are less than good. You’re not bad. But you’re not right.

And my father says that to me all the time. Typically, as he is handing me a gun to keep in my apartment because he believes me to be among the vulnerable at the mercy of violent criminals.

Anonymous said...

B. and C.

You sort of just demonstrated why your side of the argument is having such a problem winning elections and legislation, even as public opinion is seemingly shifting in a way you'd like.

You make absolutely zero effort to understand the other side's point of view. You just simply declare that anyone who differs is "less good" because of it.

Your father probably needs some lessons in Facebook etiquette. But you might learn something by reading just a few of the serious arguments being made by those who are reticent to redefine a term that's been in existence for millenia. Marriage was around for a long time before courts decided they needed to start issuing licenses for it. Just sayin.

Tatiana said...

If you want to float some "serious" arguments against same sex marriage my way, I would be happy to read them. Because the only arguments I have read in support of opposing it, I've found insulting.

As for something exsisiting for millenia as proof that it is right? Umm, slavery was also around since before Christ, and I think we can all agree the government stepping in and saying enough is enough was a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Well, governments enforces slave-based regimes for a long time before they stepped in and said enough, but that's neither here nor there.

I never said that something old is definitely something good. I'm saying you are the one who wants to redefine a term, changing the meaning of a word and the definition of an institution that has served society well for millenia. So it shouldn't be too much to ask for you to acknowledge the arguments of those who resist.

I doubt you want me to turn your blog into an overarching debate on gay marriage, but if you truly do want to understand the traditional marriage defenders, you can't do better than to read the work of Dr. Robert George of Princeton, specifically his recent book, "What is Marriage?"

My main point is that the gay marriage proponents would have much more success if they would actually deal with the legitimate concerns of their ideological opponents, instead of just playing the "OMG TEH BIGOT" card (not directed at you, per se).

There are concerns that gay marriage opens the door for polygamy and group marriages. Do you agree? Why or why not?

If a church refused gay marriages due to very basic and obvious theological objections, could that church be sued?

How about a wedding photographer with the same objections?

Could the government shut down Catholic Charities adoption services, because they refuse to place kids with same-sex couples?

Could a government deny an operating license to a company (chick-fil-a, for instance), for no other reason than said company's corporate leader answered a question about gay marriage in a way people didn't like?


These questions and others must be dealt with, because at the end of the day, too many people have too much evidence that it's not just gay marriage that you want (again, not you personally). You want full-on societal condemnation of anyone who isn't on board with it. You want boycotts. You want people with opposing views to be ostracized and drummed out of polite society. After all, they are not good people. They're bigots.

Tatiana said...

You are right. There are a lot of questions. I disagree that these need to be answered before we make a decision as to whether or not our government should continue to discriminate against some of its citizens.

That said, and again -- not a constitutional law scholar, here -- I believe there are laws in place that would protect churches from performing gay marriages. After all, I'm not a Catholic, I can't get married in a Catholic church (unless I make some changes and promises), but I also can't sue the church for denying me a big, white church wedding. Well, I guess I could, but I would lose.

As for businesses, again, I believe the current laws that are in place would protect them from discrimination by the government, so long as they weren't doing anything illegal. Supporting an organization that is pro-traditional marriage isn't against the law. Of course, it also isn't against the law for private citizens to boycott your organization because they don't like your politics.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough, but you should know that every single one of those examples is (in the words of the old Law & Order show), "ripped from the headlines," and not just theoretical.

Religious-based adoption agencies are being "discriminated against" by certain governments.

Municipal politicians openly admitted they are using the government's monopoly on force to deny Chik-fil-a an operating permit, for no other reason than the speech of a corporate leader. That strikes me as, well, religious discrimination. Crude bigotry, if you will.

And as far as discrimination goes, it's sort of the whole point of government.

If it's none of the government's business to deny marriage licenses to gay couples, how is it the government's business to deny one to a group marriage of consenting adults? Or cousins, for that matter?

I've got my own opinions on all this, but it seems to me that the people pushing for gay marriage would make a lot more progress by engaging with the people who disagree with them and trying to win them over, rather than assuming bad motives on their part and demonizing them as bigots.

You seem to be a committed leftist, so I assume you were a big Obama supporter in 2008. His position on gay marriage at the time was no different than your father's. Was that a cause of distress for you? Were you heartbroken that he was campaigning on a platform of enforcing discrimination against homosexuals?

I doubt it. You probably just assumed he was lying, as all politicians do. And you figured he would "come out" as a gay marriage supporter as soon as it was safe politically, because being a politician, he's also necessarily a coward who is not going to risk his career over an issue he doesn't care much about.

It's not terribly different with folks like your dad. For the vast majority of his life, the idea of gay marriage was so bizarre and absurd it was pointless to even entertain the notion. He'll never be in favor of gay marriage, but he's not out on the street corner preaching against homosexuality or anything, so just let the guy have his principles, and as things change around him, maybe some day he'll see things your way.

jw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tatiana said...

I was going to refrain from further comment until I order the book Anonymous recommended (on its way from Amazon as I type this). However, just now I saw this article and thought it relevant.

I do think we would me amiss to not remember how the current definition of marriage came to be. It was less a sacrament and more a real estate transaction.

Also, for a good portion of that time -- the traditional definition of marriage allowed for men to marry as many women as they wanted (including women whom were more than girls) and their first cousins. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Well, my hat's off to you for ordering the book.

Too many people are content to believe they know everything and to automatically ascribe bad motives to the people who disagree with them.

I don't believe for one second that you will change your mind on this issue.

But I hope you'll come away from it with the understanding that Professor George and people who share his principles are every bit as likely to be good people as anyone else you could pass on the street.

And confronting and overcoming the book's viewpoint will enable you to more effectively persuade your father and others you know who are like him, if you want to.