I don't cry easily. I pride myself on having a thick skin, yet the night of November 4th, 2008 I wept. Hard. Proposition 8 had passed in California, and I felt devestated. My relationship had been invalidated and insulted. I seriously considered leaving the country and relocating to the United Kingdom. I wrote several blog posts, called friends and family and settled into a cold, rational fury.
Thomas Jefferson, in my opinion was one of the great statesmen of our nation. A founding father, the co-author of the Declaration of Independence, a man of deep conviction and rigorous ethical standards, he has been an inspiration to many in our country and beyond. He said in his first inaugural address, "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possesses their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions."
Our current president, Barak Obama, who arguably is the "first" president in many ways - the first black president and the first to take a definitive, solid position on same sex marriage, actually surpised me. In a era of sound bites, political potshots and shifting priorities of the vocal few, he simply stated that his evolving view has now crystalized into a certainty. Same sex marriage, not civil union is the only moral, right and equitable position for the federal government to take. This on the heels of North Carolina's state consititutional ammendment to block same sex marriage, makes it even more shocking to me from a policial standpoint.
My partner Anthony and I talked about it this morning at about 4 am. Why 4 am? Because he is British, works in Macau, China and there is a 15 hour time difference. So we talk twice a day on Skype. I found Anthony's comments insightful. "I think it is historic. Obama has come out firmly on the side of equal rights. It may not win him votes, but he did the right thing for couples like us and ultimately the future." At some point, we will get married. We are already domestic partners in California, have a recorded civil union in the UK and a common law marriage certificate in Macau.
Why is this important to us? I would counter that with, why is it important for any couple? To affirm our love with our families & friends, to ensure proper legal rights and connectivity, to potentially prepare our household for children and to formalize in a socially recognized way our monogomous, long term commitment. We have been together twelve years and trust me, we have had our own ups and downs, just like any other couple.
There is another important legal aspect. Anthony could legally work here and reside in the US permenently. He has always done so in the past, thankfully due to his work as a flight attendant for British Airways and then as a student. Now, he is only able to be here as a visitor. Once we are married and recognized by the federal government, that will all change.
"I have never believed there was one code of morality for a public and another for a private man." Jefferson also said this, and so I too agree. We cannot permit rights for some and not for others. These are not, as some claim, special rights, they are equal rights for citizens. Just as my friend Bryce married his lovely Swedish wife, Annika, soon, I too will have the chance to marry my spouse from the UK, because the rules for the individuals in our constitutional republic are the same regardless of sexual orientation.
The US should lead the world in human rights and our President just did. Obama and I may disagree on some issues, but his clarity of thought, calm and rational reflection, and his deep conviction to side on the side of reason rather than expediency won my vote. What do you think of it?