Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The State of My Union

As I walked around my bedroom this morning, pulling the gray scarf off its hanger, rubbing the excess lotion into my hands, and preparing for my day, I was tuned in to the interview on NPR with Congresswoman Marcia Fudge regarding last night's State of the Union address. I nodded in agreement with everything I heard about the hope she had for bi-partisan support for immigration legislation, universal pre-K, and on-the-job training for American workers. And then she did it. She dropped the marriage equality bomb that drives me crazy. The interviewer said something like, "but government-supported on-the-job training is seen by some conservatives as too much government intervention." She countered with, "If we're going to talk about invasive government, what about the people who want to restrict abortion, or tell people who they can sleep with..." the rest of her sentence trailed off, because I was pounding my fist on the bed, yelling, "Oh no, Marcia! NO YOU DIDN'T!!" If there's one thing that I cannot stand, it's people equating marriage equality with sex. My desire to marry my partner of over 13 years has absolutely nothing to do with sleeping with her. Ask any pair of 15-year olds in the back seat of a car: "Do you want to get married right now?" I believe very few of them would jump at that chance. If marriage=sex, then what about all couples whose physical relationships wane with age, or those who due to illness no longer use sex as their avenue for intimacy, or those who for whatever reason choose not to have sex? Do they have to get divorced? Can they not raise their children together, file their taxes together, make medical and end-of-life decisions together? I don't know about you, but the amount of time in my marriage spent in bed pales next to the amount of time spent sitting with one another talking, working on our house, raising our children, paying our bills, visiting with friends, and simply making a life together. I live with someone who suffers from a chronic, as-yet incurable disease. Without a notarized, legal document in hand, if she were suddenly in need of medical intervention, I would not be able to stand in the hospital and take part in the discussions with doctors about her care. If I were to suffer a stroke and were left unable to speak, she would not be the person to whom the medical staff looked to be my advocate. Fortunately, we both have families who support us and our union, and who would defer to our choices for one another, but many, many gay couples do not have that luxury. I read stories all the time of gay couples whose partners' families have shut them out of hospital rooms, or worse...refused to allow them to attend the funerals of the people with whom they have lived and shared everything for years. When a straight couple goes to their parents to announce their engagement, how many of those parents immediately think about the sex their kids are going to have? They see two people in love, who are planning to make a long life together, perhaps raise a family or buy a house or rescue dogs or save the world. If their children choose not to have children of their own, do the parents ask them, "Are you not sleeping together?" Marriage and sex are not the same thing. Marriage equality is not about who you want to sleep with. It's about spending your lives together, Marcia, and even more than not wanting the anti-equality wing-nuts in my bedroom, I don't want them with me at the Home Depot choosing the color I paint that room.