Today, like many others, I changed my profile picture on Facebook to the symbol for the Human Rights Campaign. I live in Austin, a delightfully open-minded place, so pretty much everyone I know did the same - from my gay friends to my gay relatives to my straight friends and my straight relatives -- all the way to my fearless 65-year old mother who lives in my otherwise conservative home town. I'm proud to be part of a vast network of people who support our friends who don't yet have the legal right to marry the person they love.
When my husband Tim noticed I changed my picture, he replied with a perplexed, "????"
Now, before you start thinking I married a homophobic man, you haven't met my husband. The man sews. He wears cuff links. Long before I married Tim, I worked with him, and I thought he was gay because he owned and boldly wore a mustard yellow linen suit. But lucky for me, he's a boob man, so we're all good. It wasn't that Tim was questioning my support of marriage equality; he simply didn't recognize the symbol and was momentarily baffled by it. I joked on Facebook that for a brief moment, Tim thought I was moving to Sweden.
I then explained that I also wasn't familiar with the symbol until a few months ago, when I spotted a blue and yellow sticker on the car next to me at our neighborhood grocery and actually wondered if it had something to do with Sweden. The kid driving the car was an Austin hipster in skinny jeans who smiled at me.
"What does that sticker mean?" I asked.
He explained that the sticker was the symbol for the Human Rights Campaign, and that it was connected with supporting marriage equality.
My 9-year old daughter was with me, and since he was getting in his car and I wanted him to know I wasn't just your typical straight SUV-driving mom, I said enthusiastically, "Rosie and I support you! We watch Glee!"
And then, I snorted a big fat nerd snort and got in my car and drove off while he rolled his eyes at me.
Okay, so I failed to adequately convey my support at that point. I made a huge, important human rights issue seem silly by comparing it to letting my daughter watch a prime time show with gay jokes and characters. So today, I'd like to try again. Or, better yet, let some somebody more qualified do it for me.
Enter Jean Podrasky, cousin of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., who was present at today's US Supreme Court hearing on Proposition 8. This is what Podrasky had to say on the matter of marriage equality:
“Everyone in this country has a family member who is part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community…,” she wrote. “As a Californian, I want nothing more than to marry my wonderful girlfriend. And as a tax-paying citizen, I seek basic fairness.”
I'm one of those people who has a family member who is part of the gay community. And I agree with Podrasky, chances are, we all do (whether we know it or not, or whether that person has felt safe enough to share that often difficult reality with their loved ones). Lucky for me, my mother raised us to be open to all kinds of things that society deems as "different," so having a gay relative was, and always has been, a non-issue. Until now.
I want my relative to be able to have a legally-recognized marriage with his partner of 20+ years. I get to marry my partner, why can't he? I want my dear, childhood friend -- a boy I spent most of 7th grade trying to get to kiss me and who caused me to develop a complex until I learned he liked boys -- be able to marry his partner of 16+ years so that they can grow old together.
If nothing else, I want my LGBT friends to have the same rights to get married, so we can all share the same jokes about marriage. Like, for example, when Tim and I tell people that when we got married, we said, "Divorce is not an option. But homicide is." Or, when Tim says, "The only thing worse than being married is being single." After all, shouldn't we all have the same rights to be miserable when our spouses don't shut the kitchen cabinets or leave the salad dressing lid just a little bit loose? Every time? (And, for the record, that's me, not Tim. I leave salad dressing lids loose. I am sorry. We won't mention who leaves kitchen cabinets open..)
There are some who feel passionately that the institution of marriage is strictly for a man and a woman. While I personally think that is utter hogwash, I am also very sorry they feel that way. I am especially sorry for people who feel that way, marry a member of the opposite sex, and then decide to have a child. And then, that child grows up and finds the courage to say that they are in love with a person of the same sex, and is faced with having to figure out how to tell their parents the truth. Because it happens all the time, and only the tolerant survive those situations, look back, and wonder what all the fuss was about. The one thing that gives me hope is that I know people have the ability to grow and change, and to be more accepting.
I simply cannot understand people wanting to put restrictions on love. We should all be free to love and marry whomever we want. I personally don't care if you want to marry a guinea pig as long as it makes you happy.
So I'll close with this, a quote from the lovely Cynthia Nixon of Sex and the City fame (because by now you know that I have a certain need to associate important issues with gay-friendly TV shows):
"When women got the vote, they did not redefine voting. When African-Americans got the right to sit at a lunch counter alongside white people, they did not redefine eating out. They were simply invited to the table. That is all we want to do; we have no desire to change marriage. We want to be entitled to not only the same privileges but the same responsibilities as straight people."