I am a free man, an American, a Democrat, and a 69-year old homosexual that is committed to a 35-year loving relationship with another man, in that order. I am also a liberal, a conservative, a Californian, a taxpayer, a consumer, a voter, —and I am all these things in no fixed order.**
I believe that the advocates for gay marriage have become their own worst enemies. Because of the strong widespread public sentiment against gay marriage, George Bush was elected to a second term as President. As an individual who does not practice any religious doctrine, I am opposed to anyone insisting that I have to marry the person I love in order to validate the love that I have for another person.
In February 2000 my partner and I signed California’s Declaration of Domestic Partnership application. Subsequent legal enhancements approved by the California legislature have given my partner and me all of the rights and privileges accorded to all married California citizens. However we do not enjoy the same legal protections that couples receive at the national level, and I believe that we will not receive those benefits as long as the Republicans are in office.
I believe that marriage is strictly for people who are religious. As a young Lutheran, I learned that marriage is one of the major sacraments of gaining entrance into heaven, the others being baptism, confirmation, and death. Each of these requires the administration of an appropriate religious leader to “cleanse” a person of their sins before they may enter the gates of heaven. As a non-religious person, I do not need this type of affirmation. However, as a human being I desire all of the rights and privileges that are accorded two people who live in a committed relationship—something we might call a civil union—very similar to the Domestic Partnership laws of California. By signing the document, we declare:
• that we share a common residence;
• that we agree to be jointly responsible for each other’s basic living expenses;
• that neither of us is married or a member of another domestic partnership;
• that we are not related by blood that could prevent us from being married to each other in this state;
• that we are at least 18 years of age;
• that we are members of the same sex or we are over the age of 62. . . ;
• that we are both capable of consenting to the domestic partnership; and
• that neither of us has previously filed a Declaration of Domestic Partnership . . .
Under today’s California law we must follow the same divorce proceedings as any legally married couple. Many countries in Europe recognize civil unions and the number of countries is increasing. Elton John and his partner did not marry in a church; they had a civil union. Prince Charles and his Camilla did not marry in a church; they had a civil union. The Church of England would not recognize these two marriages. Civil unions are becoming more and more popular throughout the compassionate and progressive countries of the world.
If, and when, the United States joins the more progressive nations, any two people, regardless of sex, will be able to live together and protect and defend themselves according to the rights guaranteed by our Constitution of the United States of America. I am a free man, an American, and a homosexual Democrat, in that order.
**A revised statement borrowed from My Political Philosophy by Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, The Texas Quarterly, Winter, 1958.
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