Skip to main content

It's so personal


The state of Minnesota is facing the same budget crisis that every other state is facing, with major cuts to social services, public education, and huge unemployment numbers. The solution?
Minnesota Gay Marriage Ban Amendment On 2012 Ballot

Minnesota lawmakers on Saturday night approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, sending it to voters for their approval, the Star-Tribune reported.
Yes, apparently the best way to solve your state's budget crisis is to make sure that a portion of your citizens are banned from marrying. To be clear: gays and lesbians are not currently allowed to marry in Minnesota. This ban would be a preventative measure just in case they should get all uppity push the issue during a year of non-apocalyptic budget woes.

This directly affects two of our closest friends, Liz and Lindsay, who live in Minneapolis. They have been in a committed, monogamous relationship for fourteen years (4 years longer than Erin and I). They are high-school sweethearts, and they now have a handsome little 14-month-old boy. As they write on their family blog
Sarah Anderson, the representative from my district...sent us a note right after Jude was born letting us know that she was so excited to hear about the birth of our son and to "let her know if there was anything we needed." So, Liz took Sarah Anderson up on her offer and asked that she vote no on the amendment. So there we were, watching the lights by the representatives' names light up green or red. Looked like green was winning. Sarah still hadn't voted. And then she did. Her light turned green and I took it personally.
Yeah, I take it personally, too. Sarah Anderson, wake up and realize that you are way on the wrong side of history. How do you get to the point in your political career where you can do this to your constituents and still sleep at night? Also, how exactly does this reduce your state's deficit or create jobs?

In another post, L&L post some of the letters their friends and family sent to the Minnesota state legislator. I was particularly touched by the letter sent by Lindsay's mother
My husband and I are not residents of Minnesota, but we have three very good reasons why we are urging you to vote no on your state's proposed marriage amendment: my daughter, her partner, and their 14 month-old son. As you know, we are fighting this same battle here in California and we are hoping fervently that Prop 8 will be overturned.

When we learned that our daughter is gay when she was 17, we were shocked, sad, and most of all scared - scared that she would be discriminated against. Fourteen years later, after a great deal of learning and emotional adjustment, we see our daughter's family just as we will see our son's family should he have one some day. I dare any of you to spend a day with them and then say they don't have the same right to legalize their relationship that your heterosexual children have. They are both college graduates, have good jobs, own their own home, and are doing a fantastic job of raising their son. If only all children had the benefit of being raised in such a loving family, the world would be a much better place.
Please, take some time to learn about this issue rather than voting blindly along political lines. Don't prohibit my daughter from having the same civil right as yours.

This is what it comes down to: whether or not to deny rights to law-abiding, productive citizens. More to the point, denying equal rights to two loving parents. The basis for this denial? Nominally it's to "protect the sanctity of marriage." As if gay people getting married will cause divorces. As if Erin and I will continuously have our marital bliss endangered by gay people devoting their lives to one another. This is the weakest of weak-sauce arguments out there.

Of course, the real reason rests in a tradition of bigotry. This is how it worked with slavery, the oppression of women, segregation, modern intolerance of Muslims, and it's how it continues with gays and lesbians. Fortunately, this intolerance is weakening. The major driving force behind this sea change is the number of people who know gay, lesbian and queer people is steadily increasing as more and more people come out of the closet, and more and more straight people recognize the senselessness of the previous generations' bigotry.

Late last month, Gallup released findings from a new poll demonstrating that opposition to marriage equality is higher among American adults who say they don’t know anyone who is lesbian or gay. Check out this article about the pole results, which says
The survey, which was conducted earlier in May, found that Americans oppose legalizing marriage between same-sex couples by 57% to 40% . That margin hasn’t changed notably since a previous Gallup poll about a year ago.

When the May sample was split into those who said they have a gay or lesbian friend, relative, or coworker (58% of the sample) and those who didn’t (40%), the differences in marriage attitudes were striking.

The latter group registered overwhelming opposition to marriage equality — 72% opposed it whereas only 27% favored it...By contrast, respondents reporting personal contact with a gay man or lesbian were almost evenly split — 49% supported marriage equality and 47% opposed it.

It's just very difficult to be intolerant of a group of people when you know some of them at a personal level. It's easy to rail against those damn Mooslims when you haven't ever spoken to one. It's easy to enact discriminatory legislation against people when you don't recognize them as people.

This was certainly the case in the evolution of my own views toward gay and lesbian people. I vividly remember a sermon at my church in which the pastor said that homosexuality is a special kind of sin that God abhors more than others, because when a man loves another man it causes the men to be less a reflection of God Himself. I bought into that at the time. It was easy, because after all...ew. Just....ew! Right?

That is until I started meeting gay people. It turned out that some were annoying, but it was just because they were annoying people, not because they were gay. It also turns out that some were the most kind, funny, intelligent and interesting people I had ever met. Some of them became close friends, and still are to this day, like Liz and Lindsay. And far from being a threat to Erin's and my marriage, Liz and Lindsay's relationship is a model for us. Knowing them has protected and strengthened our marriage. And as a result, I want to protect theirs against the senseless bigotry of people like Sarah Anderson and the other MN legislators that are attempting to strip the rights of MN citizens.

The fight for marriage equality is very personal for us.

Comments

Cory said…
I am so lucky to have been friends with all four of you! You are all inspirations and models of what true families are! My sister voted Yes here in California and regretted it after I reminded her, once her marriage (interracial) was not legal either. We can change it, even if it's one mind at a time. Thanks for fighting!!
TheOtherMother said…
This is such a touching blog post. What an honor to call you a friend, Baybuh.
Bonzer said…
That might be the nicest thing anyone has ever written about us (at least it's a tie with the letter Lindsay's mom wrote). You are both amazing and I think that our relationship is better for knowing the two of you. We love you guys (and you too, Cory!) and your support is more than amazing. Kisses, kisses, kisses.

Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:


It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The subtle yet real racism of the Supreme Court

Judge Roberts, a member of the highest court in the land, which is currently hearing the sad story of mediocre college aspirant Abigail Fischer, recently asked, "What unique ­perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class? I’m just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation?" 
Did you catch the white supremacy in this question? If not, don't feel bad because it's subtly hidden beneath the cloaking field of colorblind racism. (As for Scalia's ign'nt-ass statements, I'm not even...)
Try rephrasing the question: "What unique perspective does a white student bring to a physics classroom?" The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing! Why? Because race isn't biological, and is therefore not deterministic of cognitive abilities. Did you perhaps forget that you knew that when considering Roberts' question? If so, again, it's understandable. Our society and culture condition all of us to forget basic facts …