Friday, January 3, 2014

Passion and Compassion for 2014

I once got into an epic argument with an aunt of my husband's on Facebook. It was all prompted by a sarcastic status update deigned to point out the hypocrisy and cluelessness of bigots in their suppression of marriage equality. I wrote: "My husband and I have no intention of having children. Does this mean our marriage is invalid??"  This was a dig at those who say that gays shouldn't wed because the "true" purpose of marriage between a man and woman is procreation. Well, this relative, who is against marriage equality, said that I was 'insulting her gay friends by making light of the issue.' I, a champion for equality, who has attended rallies and marched in pride parades, was somehow insulting her gay friends by attempting to point out society's failure through humor.  As the argument progressed, the preposterousness of her statements enraged and flabbergasted me to such a degree, that I actually shut down.  As bullies do, she attempted to prove her ridiculous point by belittling me, making me look frivolous, and essentially punching holes in my logic by saying I wasn't a serious person. 
We all have that relative.
Time has passed, and I have made only one resolution this year: NO MORE BULLSHIT.

I wish that I could somehow wear a neon sign with the sentiment blazing across my body.  I will no longer be weak when dealing with an internet bully whose own self righteousness has warped their mind into believing that they are making a lick of sense.  I wish I could go back to that day and do it better.  Instead of crumpling in defeat, I wish that I had used my anger to propel my argument further forward.  I wish I had said, "No. I am not insulting your gay friends, because I fight for them. I believe, down to my very core, that people like you, who think you're hip for having gay friends but still don't want them to have access to the same basic rights you do, are part of what's wrong with this world.  Because you still feel, deep down, that your friends aren't normal, that they may be denied access to heaven, and that marriage is only between a man and a woman. What sort of friend are you?!"

There are so many people who scratch their heads and say, 'why can't gay people just be together-- why do they have to get married?'  Well, it's because by design, our legal and financial systems fail loving couples who, for one reason or another, cannot legally wed.  I cite the heartbreaking tale of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, an American couple who legally wed in Canada after a 40 year engagement.  Two years later, Spyer tragically died, and Windsor was required to pay $363,053 in federal taxes on her own wife's estate because the US government didn't recognize same sex marriage as a legal union. 

Windsor took the case before the Supreme Court and won, subsequently causing the Supreme Court to re-examine the constitutionality of DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act), which was also struck down.

Chris Kluwe: BAMF
Former Minnesota Vikings player Chris Kluwe said it best when he wrote to Maryland State Legislator Emmet C. Burns, Jr.:
"I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?"
Ohh burn. Unfortunately, Kluwe subsequently lost his job with the Vikings, a move he suspects is in large part because of his own outspokenness for equality. It's so sad and frustrating that it's 2014 and champions for justice are still being treated in this way. It has to stop. While I am frustrated, I am determined not begin 2014 with anger, but with passion, and the strength to keep fighting.

2014: the year of NO MORE BULLSHIT!