I was blessed to be raised in a large extended family with members of all types, varying from fanatically religious to argumentatively atheist, physically handicapped to emotionally imbalanced, biracial to homosexual. I was lucky to have a first row seat to the difficulties and discrimination each encountered in our small Ohio town, though being a child I didn’t always understand the ‘why’ of it. It logically follows that I hold tight to equality and the unequivocal principles of our constitution. So when a local court removed mine and my partner’s rights to design our own relationship at the behest of his ex-wife a year and a half ago, I found myself at a cross-roads. Stand through a long, stressful, expensive fight or fold to make life easier?
I abhor bigotry, exclusion in the law and the recently relentless religious encroachment on the legislature and I realize the impact religion has on the gay marriage issue. My refusal to marry is in private protest of what I see as a violation of the separation of our government and religion. Afterall, how could I look myself in the eye knowing I’m in a legally and financially safer position only given to me because I was born this way instead of that? My brother says ‘they just can’t have it’ because marriage is a Judeo-Christian institution– despite the fact that he’s not Jewish, or Christian, and is married. Not part of the ‘born again’ crowd, I would see myself as quite the hypocrite if I were to partake in the legal benefits of marriage as things are now. Marriage is not right for me until the law moves away from religious exclusivity and I hold firmly to the belief that I have the right to make this decision without having to sleep outside my home when his children are there, though this is not what the court decided.
I never thought I’d have to explain my refusal to marry to a judge– a private protest is after all, private. The invasion of our home by our legal system has almost destroyed my faith in the courts. As we await the opinion of the appeals court and hopefully my redemption of faith, I hear from others that it’s not my fight, it’s not my problem, why am I expending so much energy, money and time to make a statement about gay rights? I think Martin Luther King Jr answered this question for me long before I was born when he said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It’s not about gay rights, it’s about my rights. It’s about the rights of my partner, the rights of my child. It’s about the rights of our neighbors, friends and fellow Americans to make their own decisions about their relationships. It’s about the rights of each of us to equality and autonomy… no matter whose cross we bear. This, I wholeheartedly believe.