I sat through a presentation by a gentleman from the Michigan ACLU yesterday about LGBT rights in Michigan. It was incredibly depressing. I watched this man and wondered how he gets out of bed in the morning, continuing to fight the same old losing fight with very little hope on the horizon.
Maryland is far from having gay marriage - but we do have anti-discrimination laws that prevent people from denying housing based on sexual orientation. We have hate crimes legislation. We have second-parent adoption. We allow state benefits to be extended to same sex partners. (Stop me if I say something wrong.) For the most part, we are the epitome of a state that does not recognize "special" rights for gay people, but gay people get the same rights as the rest of us. (Don't get me started on special rights. Equal rights are not special rights.) Michigan doesn't have these proctections. You can kick people out of your apartment complex for being gay. You can only be part of a second-parent adoption if you are married to the parent (aka a step parent.) You can't have visitation with your kid if you're transgender. You can't have overnight visitation with your kid if a person who is not the parent of the child spends the night at your house. You can't put a domestic partner on your health insurance if you work for a local or state entity, like the public library.
I can understand, somewhat, being against gay marriage. But being against gay families? Families come in, have always come in, all different shapes and sizes. Friends and sisters raise children together; grandparents raise children; teenagers raise children. Plenty of couples never have children. Telling people that their family cannot look a certain way is just wrong. (If you're going to throw polygamy or incest at me, don't bother.) Some families are large, some families are small. Ultimately though, families are the core units which make up our society. And everyone should be allowed to have them.
I also don't understand being against domestic partner benefits. I don't. Ultimately, people are gay. They exist. And it is none of your damn business who gets covered by their employer. Every day, your tax dollars go to fund things that you don't agree with. They fund wars, they fund abstinence-only sex education; they fund weapons and schools and libraries and abortion clinics and everything else in between. To pick on families, families with children, who love each other, whose employers want to give them benefits like health insurance - how can you take that away? I don't understand it.
As I sat there with my blood boiling, I considered two things: that I am grateful to be a Marylander, despite our backwards catholic laws; and that I am extremely unhappy to be getting married at a time in which most of my gay friends cannot. Not unhappy enough to hold out for gay marriage the way Brangelia and Charleze Theron are; but unhappy enough to feel somewhat guilty sometimes for enjoying this right. I know though, that my gay friends are happy for me, and they do not fault me my right to marry. Instead, they wish they had it too. And so do I. So for now, I think the best I can do is simply continue to support gay marriage, to continue to care, to continue to write to my congresspeople and state legislature and remind our readers that if our marriages are legal not only where we live, but in every other state, then we are very very lucky, and we should not take those rights for granted.
Truely, no one can be free while others are oppressed. And until gay marriage is recognized, all of our marriages remain a weak institution that is a product of state-controlled whims and mandates on who can love one another.