Marriage Equality!

Pooja Mandagere, left, and Natalie Thompson outside the Supreme Court following the 5-4 ruling by the court Friday. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Pooja Mandagere, left, and Natalie Thompson outside the Supreme Court following the 5-4 ruling by the court Friday. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Today is the day–the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in a 5-4 decision. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writes, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

After years of fighting, years of tears, and so much heartache–it’s here. We must continue to fight for fair housing, safety from violence, and other basic human rights denied to so many (especially our trans* siblings of color), but today, today we celebrate.

Congratulations, and thank you to everyone who worked tirelessly to make this dream a reality!

You Are Not Counterfeit. You Are Nothing Like Them.

Boyd Packer, left, and L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wait for the start of the first session of the 185th Annual General Conference. Photograph: George Frey/Reuters

Boyd Packer, left, and L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wait for the start of the first session of the 185th Annual General Conference. Photograph: George Frey/Reuters

It was the LDS General Conference this past weekend. The bi-annual gathering of the Mormon faithful where they listen intently as their church leaders (whom congregants believe are living prophets of God) issue edicts, and official doctrine. As a non-member of the organization, but a Utahn, I wait with baited-cringing-breath every session to hear the sexist, racist, homophobic drivel that spews from the pulpit. This conference was no exception.

L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles gave a talk about LGBTQ issues where he said, “We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established.” Naturally, folks who do not represent the “traditional” nuclear family of the Mormon ideology, particularly LGBTQ folks and their allies, took offense to the word counterfeit. And who could blame them? It was a horrendous jab aimed at them and their families. Offense is a natural response to being told that your love, and your families are a, “a fraudulent imitation of something else.”

I acknowledge your feelings dear friends and family, but I say this to you: Find solace in the fact that it is not you who is counterfeit, because you are nothing like them.

I’ve never met an LGBTQ family that would dare deride and condemn other loving families. I have never met proud gay parents who would question the love and tenderness of straight couples toward their children. None of my gay friends, family members, and former lovers would ever say the vile things the Mormon Church continually says about thousands of people (including, might I add, children).

You are not a counterfeit, because you do not pretend to be loving, caring, and open-minded like the Mormon Church. You do not claim to be an institution that puts the family at the center of your teachings, but perpetuates doctrine that causes parents to abandon their children. You do not tell adults that the most holy thing they can do is enter into eternal marriage, but encourage homosexual men and women to condemn themselves to lives of anguish in opposite-sex companionships.

You do none of those things, because, by and large, you are good people. You are not a counterfeit, and your love is not an imitation, because if it was an imitation of the hatred spewed with a veneer of positivity that the Mormon Church spreads,  you wouldn’t be the good people you are today.

Getting Married Before My Gay Best Friend

First Gay Wedding Show In Paris

I can’t count the times I’ve grappled with the idea of getting married before it’s legal for my best friend Travis and his partner. I argued with myself for hours about it before I was engaged, and now it’s here: I’m marrying my best friend before Travis gets to marry his.

Travis and his partner have been together for longer than me and Ben. They own a house! (I sort of think owning a house is a bigger commitment than marriage, but don’t tell Ben I said that.) They’ve seen job changes, school registrations, and family hardships together, but they can’t get married.

We can, and it’s not fair. 

The fact is, I’m so excited to proclaim my love and commitment to Ben, but I’m still very uncomfortable with the government sanctioning relationships. Even my own. There are polyamorous relationships that are just as significant as mine, homosexual relationships, and any other iteration you can think of–they’re all valid.

Why does ours receive special privileges? 

It shouldn’t. It sucks, and I’m going to write about this topic more extensively, but tonight I just need to tell you all that it isn’t fair, and I want to ask you to donate some of your hard-earned money to help fight for marriage equality in Utah. Here’s a suggestion from one of my favorite people, a great friend, and a plaintiff in the Kitchen v Herbert case:

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.19.51 PM

 

You heard the man, go donate! 

DOMA, Prop 8, and Looking Beyond Marriage

550023_355517757888090_1317431231_n

The sea of red equality signs on social media this week was a powerful gesture for many. For some it was moving to see their parents, clergy, and friends show public support for their sexual orientation, but for others it only reinforced their protests against the institution of marriage for all.

The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday in regard to Proposition 8, the controversial ban on same-sex marriage in California. Attorney George Cooper defended the ban by stating that (amongst other things), “the concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children.”

Supporters of same-sex marriage argue that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment includes a right for same-sex couples to marry. Supporters also cite constitutional precedent in cases such as Loving v Virginia (1967) and Lawrence v Texas (2003) that define marriage as a fundamental right. I couldn’t agree more with supporters of same-sex marriage. Anything less than full legal rights for gay couples relegates LGBT relationships to the status of second-class citizens. Unfortunately it appears that the Supreme Court is going to sidestep a decision in the case, which will legalize same-sex marriage in California (by deferring to a lower-court ruling that struck down Proposition 8), but it will leave intact the bans in 37 other states.

The fervor surrounding same-sex marriage continued on Wednesday when the court heard arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton the Defense of Marriage Act defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and denied federal benefits to gay couples. The Obama Administration has declared the law unconstitutional, and it appears that the SCOTUS may rule along the same lines. 

Amidst the impassioned cries from supporters and detractors of same-sex marriage are cries of a different sort. Queer political activists decry same-sex marriage as a strategy of assimilation dominated by white, cis-gendered activists who ignore more pressing issues for the queer community like universal healthcare and workplace protections. These activists implore us to remember the words of Audre Lorde, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

What do you think, do we really want the government sanctioning relationships?