Why same-sex marriage still matters

Marriage has always been on our tongues-even when we were young. We’d run around the playground talking about how we’re going to marry our best friend and live in a big house and play outside everyday. Good times. But then Mrs. So-and-so sat the two of us down and told us that we couldn’t get married, that we’d have to marry someone of the opposite sex. Indoctrinate them while they’re still young, right? Meanwhile, we were heartbroken. Crushed. Why can’t I marry Brian Cameron?

Puberty helped answer that question for most of y’all reading this, and all of a sudden it was about getting with Shelly Harvey and Whitney Hunn. That’s fine for some, but I still wanted to marry Brian Cameron. Most girls thought about their white knight with a good heart, soft touch, fast horse and how pretty their dress would be. When I thought about my wedding day, a long, flowing, white dress wasn’t part of the picture.

I didn’t choose to be gay any more than Martin Luther King Jr. chose to be black, any more than Eleanor Roosevelt chose to be a woman. Why then is the Falwellian Coalition singling me and my people out for any reason? Leviticus hates your cotton/polyester blend shirt and the bacon at Chartwells just as much as what goes on in our bedrooms.

Marriage matters a great deal more than the picturesque scene of being on a rocky cliff overlooking the ocean and sunrise and telling him and the world how much I love him. If he ever gets really sick, I want to be by his side in the hospital. I want to sit down late with coffee in April and do our taxes together. I want to leave the house to our oldest son. And God forbid, I want to be able to tell the doctor to pull the plug. I’m sorry if these wishes conflict with your interpretation of the King James version.

Civil unions are not good enough. When Howard Dean signed the bill in 1999, it was one of the most important things ever done for the GLBT community. But it was not good enough. “Sorry for making you sit in the back, Rosa. You may now sit in the middle of the bus.” If there is one important lesson to be learned from the civil rights struggle, it is that separate is never equal. I don’t care if the same water comes out of those fountains, it is not good enough.

Listening to these politicians proselytizing about protecting marriage by limiting it to my straight friends further inspires me to give all of myself to see them fail. We mustn’t be content to live in an America where legalized discrimination is the norm. We mustn’t be afraid to bleed, sweat or cry along the way because I’ll tell you this, I’ll be damned if I allow the legal status of my love to be defined by the likes of Tom DeLay. Straight, gay, bi or whatever, you should be too.

Chris Fisher can be contacted at c.fisher@umiami.edu.