The Waiting Game

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The past two days have been anxious ones in our household, as for many others in the LGBTQ community. As the Supreme Court heard arguments about two monumental cases: Prop 8 from California and DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

If you haven’t noticed by now, our family is headed by a same-sex couple. Panda and I were legally civil union-ed in Hawaii in January 2012 – 6 days after the Hawaii law went into effect legalizing our union. Together, we are raising our son, contributing to our community, building a life and being the “it” person for one another. We have struggled and continue to overcome many of the same challenges that other families and households encounter: big ones such as custody battles and family rifts; small ones such as professional disappointments and the division of household duties (believe me! i thank my angels every day that my beautiful wife does laundry and coaches soccer!). We both go to our jobs every day and put in a long and dedicated day’s work, we pay our taxes, we try to build a nest egg of savings, we nurture our friendships, we do homework with our son (who knew that first-grade math word problems were so damn difficult?!? – and if you knew that, why the hell didn’t you tell us??!), we go to our doctors, we live a very mundane daily life. And yet, in the eyes of society and our government, our partnership is simply less than equal to those of straight couples. Why is that? And why can’t I get an answer from the right that doesn’t involve religion? Because, my friends, I have a couple of items that I want to yell from the rooftops when someone defends the discrimination of gay couples:

  • Your religion is not my religion. And this country has a division of church and state intentionally built into it’s constitution for a reason. So, please feel free to have your religion guide your life choices as you interpret it, but you have no right to impose your belief (or interpretation of beliefs) onto my life and my choices.
  • If me crawling into bed at night to curl up on my wife’s shoulder affects your marriage, then honey – you have a whole ton of shit that you need to deal with … and it has NOTHING to do with me and mine.
  • Just because “marriage” has been defined in one manner for thousands of years does not make it right – after all, at one point in time society thought the world was flat (it’s not), that slavery was acceptable (it isn’t), that women were property (believe me, we’re not), that racial discrimination based on perceived racial inadequacies was justified (again, it’s not) … and, if anyone else has noticed, all of these premises were brought to us by the wonderful and thorough thoughtfulness of old white men. Hmmmm … now there’s something to ponder! By the way, thank you Justice Kagan for your wise and eloquent insightfulness during the DOMA arguments.
  • If marriage is strictly for procreation purposes: 1) there better be fertility tests before every marriage (state-sponsored, of course), 2) all married couples shall submit a procreation plan detailing when they have sex (making sure, of course, that their sexual intercourse correlates with the female’s menstrual cycle – no sex for fun, people!), 3) anyone who indicates that they do not wish to have children must submit to counseling so that their deficiencies be analyzed, 4) if a married couple fail to produce a child within a year of marriage, they need to submit to medical tests to identify the procreation problem and have it fixed, 5) anyone identified as unable or unwilling to procreate or past the age-bearing years will not be allowed to be married — Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, my peeps, IT IS!
  • Get the hell out of my business! Look, I pay my taxes, I live my life, I try to raise my son to be a good and kind man, I try to make my little sliver of this world a bit better – so leave me alone and be concerned about yourself. You don’t want to marry a person of the same sex? Then don’t! Just don’t tell me what I can and can’t do.
  • Finally, if I don’t receive the same rights and protections as my fellow citizens, then guess what? There is no justification in me paying the same taxes as my fellow citizens (in my tax bracket, of course). Just put a little check box on my next tax form (oh shit! we need to do our taxes!) that indicates that I am in a same-sex marriage and, since we don’t get to be seen as equal under the law, then I don’t need to pay an equal amount of taxes.

These issues are not hypothetical, abstract or academic in our family. What happens with DOMA and the precedent and impact of Prop 8 has an immediate and real effect on me, my wife and our son. We are a bi-national couple and, despite Panda being in this country for over 15 years, I cannot legally sponsor her for citizenship because one of us does not have a penis. We have to build extra protections and complete extra paperwork and legal documents to (hopefully) adequately demonstrate to “others” that we are each other’s “it” person. There is no guarantee that, when we travel in another state that may or may not recognize our civil union, that we are understood and accepted as next-of-kin or that we have each other’s legal proxy and power-of-attorney. There are no guarantees or safety for us or our family. And, to put it simply, in our country where it was established that all individuals were created equal, than – by virtue of that – all relationships were created equal as well. And we expect and deserve that respect and honor.

And so we wait. We wait for SCOTUS to render their decision{s}. And we wait to see how their decision{s} impact our lives. We wait and we hope that the support that we have been witnessing by friends and strangers, communities, businesses and politicians continue and that this support has been loud and visible enough to demonstrate that we are not going to sit quietly and wait for a majority to hand us our rights. We wait and look forward to witnessing the monumental strides that our society and government needs to take in order to demonstrate that equality is a right for everyone in American society and that the minorities in our country are respected by the majority.

We wait. And, let me tell you, some of us are not patient – but we will wait and bear witness to what comes next.

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