I’ve been thinking about marriage today–gay, straight, what have you. Fratguy and I have been in a civil union for 15 years. I think that’s the right term, as we were “married” by a notary (you can do that in Maine), but because we’re an opposite-sex couple, everyone calls us “married,” although neither of us wanted to darken the door of any church in the service of enacting our civil union.
But you get used to this kind of thing when you’re in a straight union–a lot of the time you benefit from other people’s assumptions about you. It means (for example) that you don’t have to carry around your marriage license as proof of your legal relationship. The words “husband” and “wife” really are magic in that respect–I’ve never been asked to prove it. My husband’s agreement about our status suffices.
Sometimes those assumptions are annoying–such as when other people lay their trip about what marriage is on you, and judge your marriage by their standards, not yours. (These assumptions are almost always about the behavior of women in marriages, not the men they’re married to. Men usually benefit from the assumptions people make about them as married men, even if those assumptions are totally wrong.)
In any case, this is all just a windup to direct you to go read Madwoman with a Laptop‘s thoughts on her 29 years with the woman whose wife she will never be, along with a really thoughtful analysis of civil unions, gay marriage, and her very intentional rejection of marriage and wifedom although her state now permits same-sex marriage. (Colorado’s civil unions bill is on its way–I know it’s weak tea, but we’re trying.) I read Madwoman today before hearing the news that Rob Portman (R-OH), a conservative U.S. Senator, now gives gay marriage the old okey-doke because one of his sons is gay. Jon Chait is right–conservative Republicans have consistently shown absolutely zero imagination (let alone compassion) about the lives of people they think they don’t know. From Portman’s editorial in the Columbus Dispatch:
Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.
Right–because none of his constituents or fellow Americans ever pointed this out to Portman before, it never occurred to him that teh gayz are people, too! None of them were ever as “honest” or “courageous” as his son. It only seemed real to him when his son pointed out that being gay is “simply a part of who he is.”
At the time, my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.
It never, ever occurred to Portman that marriage equality might have been important to the other parents of gay and lesbian children, who also surely “want. . . [their] kids to lead, happy, meaningful lives with the people they love.” Well. It’s nice that Rob Portman now supports marriage equality, but it just stinks to hell that his Damascene conversion happened only because he sees an immediate benefit for one of his own. As the Church Lady might say, isn’t that special?
If only every state house representative, state senator, governor, U.S. congressperson, U.S. Senator, and president whose daughters have had abortions would come out in support of abortion rights! Of course when it’s their kid, they see the need for the procedure to be regulated, safe, and readily available. If it’s you or your kid who needs an abortion? Well, you might as well lay back and try to enjoy that vaginal probe.
Whatever. I’m done with that old Pharisee, Rob Portman, and his “faith tradition” of screwing over every one of his constituents to whom he’s not related. La Famille Historiann is going on spring break. I’ll check in from the beach/volcano/jungle when I can. In the meantime, have fun, wear sunscreen, and play nice!