Growing up with marriage (in)equality

It’s not often I take long walks into my past. That’s not because I have a dark past. I like to think I was a very lucky kid. Yea, I got picked on and bullied in Elementary School. But who didn’t? You got picked on for being overweight, too tall, too nerdy, too socially awkward, too feminine (for guys), too masculine (for girls). It seemed there was always *something* bullies could pick to beat you over the head with. But this isn’t about that. I guess I just find myself so busy these days trying to balance school, work, volunteer work and a wonderful relationship that I don’t reminisce very often anymore. I don’t know if other people do very often, but I assume they do. We all like to think back at what has been and compare it to what it has become. Well lately, I’ve been thinking about the past a lot more. Most of my close friends know my past. I’ve never been one to hide anything about myself. I figure we all have equal moments of genius and stupidity in our lives. We all have our gold stars and blemishes on our life report card. What spurred me to think about my past wasn’t any blemishes, or even successes, so much as a realization of just how much my life has changed in so many positive ways that I couldn’t have possibly imagined when I was a short, emotional, naive young boy. But the reality is that my life could change a lot more depending on what happens in this state on November 6. No, I won’t be rushing out to get married right away; and I’m not sure when that day will come… I haven’t quite thought that far ahead to be honest. But the possibility of being able to legally marry someone I truly, deeply love is something I never dreamed of.

As children often do, I dreamed a lot. Perhaps I dreamed more than the average person my age, I don’t know. I was the “artistic one”. So maybe that had something to do with my wild imagination. Instead of playing sports, I would often sit down at the dinner table and sketch my little heart out. I won’t lie, I was pretty good at it. I envisioned a future as an artist… Or at least some sort of famous entertainer. We all did right? I’d imagine my drawings hanging in an art exhibit and how everyone would just rant and rave about the work their eyes were feasting upon. Even when I played, I’d dream I was in a different universe. My dinosaur toys were alive. The pillows were mountains. The extension cords were river and moats. The rocks I carried around were boulders. I don’t consider much of this out of the ordinary per se. A lot of kids joined me in my games. And we all used to believe we were little Da Vinci’s running around waiting for our talent to be unleashed on the world. But there was something a little out of place (more on that later).

I didn’t stop dreaming beyond my Pre-teen years. We often get crushed by the weight of reality and social pressure when we enter junior high. It’s all science and math and reading boring novels that you’re not sure why they’re called “classics”. We stop hearing that “reach for the stars” refrain and start hearing that certain people need to be flipping burgers at McDonalds and you don’t want to be them so make sure to finish that Algebra assignment. I resisted, as teenagers sometimes do. I took up writing. Drawing and painting fell on the back burner a bit. I still enjoyed them, but I found myself enthralled with screenplays. You see, when I was young I became a movie geek. I’m not sure if it was the cheesy 50’s B Scifi films like “Praying Mantis” or “Attack of the Killer Leaches” that reeled me in to this fantastic world, or if it was the classics of cinema like “Frankenstein” or “Casablanca”. Either way, I was enchanted. I couldn’t get enough. And so, the logical thing to do was to dream of being a screen writer. I didn’t want to direct. Directing was for people who wanted control. I didn’t want control. I wanted unbridled creativity. I would write away, for years and years, every day. I could write as much as 30-40 pages in one 3 hour sitting, or as little as one sentence in an entire day. Anyone who’s ever written more than a paper for school knows that the writing process can often be rewarding and immensely frustrating all at once. I dreamed that all this work, all these words, would someday make it on screen as images for the masses to watch as they grabbed a handful of popcorn. I would sit in the theater with them and see the joy on their faces. This was my creation, bringing a smile to people’s face for two hours.

That brings us to my reminiscing (I told you we’d be coming to it later didn’t I?). I bumped into a big box of my screenplays when I moved. I hadn’t looked at them in probably two or more years. There was so much paper. Enough to fill a U-Haul box in fact. I started to pour over them. I didn’t even remember what a lot of them were about. Some were horror, some were action, some were drama… all the genres were there except romantic dramas and comedies. As I read more and more, I noticed something. I noticed that ever single one of my main characters was alone. Every. Single. One. They were usually men, because as they say, you write what you know. But what struck me wasn’t their gender, it was that they didn’t have a wife, a husband, a boyfriend or a girlfriend. None of them. Most of them didn’t even have a romantic interest in the story. I kept getting stuck on this as I read them. I thought, “Every movie has a love story”. But none of mine did. This bugged me. I couldn’t put my finger on why all my characters were alone. i kept thinking, “If art is a window into someone’s soul, what does this window say about mine?” Then I realized something… the thing that was different in my childhood that led to me to write about lonely, isolated characters: I only knew being alone, and I never dreamed of being anything other than alone. I never dreamed of grand weddings and love and commitment. It all seemed so foreign to me.

In our society, we often hear young girls (especially) talk about how they’ve always dreamed of the moment when they would meet their Prince Charming; about how they’ve always dreamed of a white flowing dress in a stained glass Cathedral; about how their family would be sitting in the pews, smiles and tears of joy running down their face; about how in that moment where they and their Prince say I do, everything would be so perfect. I never got that experience. Many in my community never got that experience. We couldn’t dream of finding “the one”. We couldn’t dream of an opulent wedding with close family and friends. We couldn’t dream of love and commitment; not like everyone else. I certainly couldn’t. I guess I was writing what I knew; living a life in isolation, cut off from a part of me that I wanted to escape but couldn’t.

I tell you this not because I feel as though I still cannot dream about these things, but because I *can*. The chance to see the state of my birth become the next state where the people like me could have the freedom to marry the person they love is making it easier for me to dream. Who will be at my wedding? What song will be playing as I walk down the aisle? What will I be wearing? Will it take place in a grand cathedral? Will my heart flutter and my stomach get butterflies when I see him in that suit? Will I have to hold back the tears as I read my vows? As we both say I do, will everything seem so perfect?

I hope that I’ll be able to give you an answer to all of these questions some day. But until then, please remember that marriage inequality doesn’t just hurt and scar those of us who made our journey into adulthood. It hurts and scars all of us. It cuts across ages, genders, social class and racial boundaries. It tells people like me, since I was young, that I should reach for the stars… just not the ones too high up. I don’t know about you, but thats not a dream I want to live in.

The state of the Anti-Marriage Equality camp in Washington State

It’s always interesting to read about the power struggles going on (mostly behind the scenes) within the anti-gay and anti-marriage equality camps all around this country. Well Washington is no different. It would seem some on the anti-marriage equality side are not happy that Backholm of the Family Policy Institute (The Washington State Branch of the Family Resarch Council) decided to file for the Referendum alone (with the aid of NOM). Cue Gary Randall with Faith and Freedom Network:

However, I am disappointed that other leaders in the state were not included as signers on the referendum.

It does make a difference. It is important. It can be very important. Some will remember Referendum 65, some years ago, and the public fight that followed between two individuals. It was not productive. Frankly, it was embarrassing.

I, along with many others who have been planning and working toward the effort to overturn SB 6239, have advocated that Representative Matt Shea, Senator Val Stevens and Pastor Ken Hutcherson should have been included or have even been the only signers on the Referendum.

This comes in the wake of the re-branding of “Stand For Marriage Washington” into “Preserve Marriage Washington”. As Jeremy Hooper over at the LGBT blog Good As You put forward, this re-branding effort wasn’t merely a name change so much as it was a way to kick aside (and silence) the more extreme elements of the anti-gay side here in Washington State:

But should there be, it’s a certainty that some outside group like Schubert Flint Public Affairs will step in and take the reins of the thing. And when they do? The more extreme voices, no matter how engaged they’ve been in the past, have a way of being tucked away in a closet. This happens every time (See Mike Heath in Maine circa 2009; Randy Thomasson during Prop 8; Ron Baity in North Carolina this year; etc.).

In Washington state, my they’ll-hide-’em-away money’s on longtime voice of hostility Ken Hutcherson. While he’s been the most prominent face of Washington’s various anti-gay efforts, both in state and nationally, Hutcherson has proven a willingness to say and do whatever he damn well pleases, pragmatism be damned. For instance, there was that recent example where he compared his Governor to John Wilkes Booth. There have been accusations of gays supposedlytrying to turn Christians into “the new negro.” Hutcherson’s also committed the cardinal “pro-family” sin of turning on his own, vocally accusing conserva-giant Focus on The Family — major player in state marriage efforts — of going too soft. These are the kinds of things that don’t play well when the bright lights of a campaign come around.

And it would seem Hooper is right.  Hutcherson certainly could be said to be alluding to the betrayal of being swept aside by those in his own movement when he wrote this:

I expect to be disliked by the non-believing world but when you are disliked by believers….

If we do not learn this truth in Washington State very soon and have the church work in unity then we will fall for the trick of light fighting light which leads to defeat, instead of light standing against the darkness which leads to victory.

As Laurel Ramseyer at Pam’s House Blend also notes, a news story over at Rueters refers to Backholm as the “head of the Preserve Marriage Washington Coalition”. This would seem to confirm what Hooper was saying; that Backholm (with NOM’s help) has pushed the more vocal elements of the movement aside in hopes that the tainted past of someone like Hutcherson (who has a history of putting his foot in his mouth that is unparalleled) wont sink their ship. Although I’m not sure that Backholm’s history is all that much better, as Ramseyer has been demonstrating in her posts.

The Rueters article also notes that Stephen Pidgeon, one of the former members of the Stand For Marriage Washington Coalition with Backholm (and a former ally with Backholm at Protect Marriage Washington when the R-71 battle was heating up in 2009) has created his own coalition called….. “Protect Marriage Washington” (They could use some creativity counseling with these names). Unlike Backholm, Pidgeon’s coalition is vying to get an Initiative (I-1192: Which would redefine marriage as between only one man and one woman) on the ballot for November. And it doesn’t sound like Backholm and Company on are board to the same extent that Pidgeon is:

“In principle, everyone’s trying to accomplish the same things,” Backholm, 33, said. “But it would be amazingly confusing.”

…..

Pidgeon, who has spent weeks haggling with state officials over the final ballot language for I-1192, said he supports the referendum but argued his initiative can get started sooner and has broader implications than responding to a specific law.

It isn’t much of long shot to say that it’s unlikely that Pidgeon will get enough signatures to get his Initiative on the ballot. It would require at least 241,154 signatures to be delivered July 6 (and of course, at least that number would have to survive the verification process). NOM and Backholm know this, and that’s why despite pretending as though they “support” Pidgeon to a certain degree, they won’t even begin to think about throwing the deep pockets that a group like NOM can tap into behind the Initiative effort. In short, the anti-gay side isn’t as unified as they once (perhaps) were and some of the more outspoken anti-gay activists’ are being sidelined while Backholm and NOM try to clean up the mess their side has created with their history of horrid rhetoric. That could be good news for Marriage Equality Proponents in this State.

If this is any indication of the way things will be going in the future, this isn’t the last time we’re bound to see some of this spill out into public. I’ll try to keep you all as up to date as I can on this ongoing shuffle and bustle in the anti-gay movement here in Washington as we move closer into the closing stretch of the fight over marriage equality.

Pelosi endorses Marriage Equality Platform for Dems

This could be huge if it ends becoming the official platform of the Democratic Party during the General Election:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports the 2012 Democratic Party platform including, for the first time, language in full support of marriage equality, her spokesman toldMetro Weekly on Tuesday evening, Feb. 14.

NP_OfficialHeadshotSmaller.jpgThe former House speaker’s support for the move comes in response to Freedom to Marry’sannouncement on Feb. 13 that it was launching a campaign to ask the Democrats, as the group put it, to “Say I Do” to including such a marriage equality plank in the party’s platform….

The proposed plank states: “We support the full inclusion of all families in the life of our nation, with equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law, including the freedom to marry. Government has no business putting barriers in the path of people seeking to care for their family members, particularly in challenging economic times. We support the Respect for Marriage Act and the overturning of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and oppose discriminatory constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny the freedom to marry to loving and committed same-sex couples.”

This comes at a time when we see Republican candidates for President wallowing in the filth of anti-gay sentiment and rhetoric to appease the far right base during the primary battles. If there was a better way to contrast the parties on this issue at the moment, I can’t think of one.

This would be the first major change in the Democratic platform with respect to gay rights since the inclusion of sexual orientation in the parties platform against discrimination in the 1980’s.

Now, this obviously doesn’t mean that it will make it into the official Democratic platform. The details of that, as the article at MetroWeekly points out, will be worked out in September at the Democratic Convention. But the fact that this push is now being led by one of the senior members of the party is a big victory for the gay rights movement. Pelosi could use her power within the party apparatus to push hard for the adoption of this language in the official platform and make it far easier to see the party begin to embrace marriage equality on a national level.