Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Random Thoughts about Marriage in Utah

Not in any particular order.

Random Thought #1
Lots of my friends here in Minnesota are asking me, "Why Utah?" Recently data was published showing that the Utah gay and lesbian community had the highest percentage of committed same-sex couples who were raising kids.

That's right. The Utah gay community seems to reflect Mormon family values. And in that value system love, commitment and marriage (and kids!) are seen as interconnected and important. Yes, gay couples in Utah have been yearning and praying for this for a long time, and their prayers have finally been answered.

Random Thought #2
This is a joyous time for gay couples in Utah and throughout the U.S. Every time gay and lesbian couples are granted the right to marry, there is a rush to the courthouses and the churches. Couples who have been waiting years -- sometimes decades -- for the right to marry don't waste any time. The Internet is then flooded with photos of people hugging, smiling, laughing, crying, laughing and crying at the same time, surrounded by friends and family rejoicing with them.

I feel sad for those who are angry; for those who feel nothing but Freudenschade, misery at the happiness of others. It's Christmas time, for God's sake.

Random Thought #3
What would have happened if conservatives, instead of satisfying themselves with blocking gay marriage, had engaged in a serious effort to meet the legitimate needs of gay-couple-headed families? What if they had done this 20 years ago, and not just as a last ditch measure to head off full-blown marriage for gay-couple-headed families? What if they had really been concerned about our welfare instead of treating us like we were barbarians at the gates, trying to upend civilization?

Because, of course, they were wrong about us. Marriage and family are the ultimate civilizing forces. We gay and lesbian marriage activists insisted that the dysfunctional norms of a community that had been shut out of civilization needed to be reformed. We understood the power and importance of marriage in a way our straight opponents and gay detractors didn't seem to.

But if conservatives had sincerely, genuinely shown concern for our needs early in this process, could a compromise have been reached that would have protected gay couples and their kids without admitting that gay couples were "married"?


But maybe it wouldn't have been desirable to have two different classes of families. That never works so well in a democracy committed to the principle of equality.

I'm still left asking the question: Why were conservatives never concerned about us? We were never trying to take anything away from them. Why were they afraid of us instead of compassionate toward us?

Random Thought #4
I find it a fascinating phenomenon that conservative judges appointed by conservative Republican presidents suddenly become "liberal activists" who are "legislating from the bench" when they rule in a way that conservative Republicans don't like.

The American system has always had that capacity for surprising us. It's why I am proud to be an American.

Random Thought #5
The Federal judge who made this ruling said that the state had failed to make the case that granting marriage to gay and lesbian couples took anything away from heterosexual couples or harmed them or their families in any way.

Conservatives have never actually really made this case. They've had two decades to do so, and they still haven't, and the house of cards is finally tumbling.

Random Thought #6
This ruling was made by appealing to the 14th Amendment -- the "equal protection" amendment. I guess that always seemed self-evident to me, but it still surprised me. I expected "full faith and credit" to be the path forward.

Equal protection. I, even I, deserve equal protection. My husband and I, we, deserve equal protection under the law. I'm still amazed and grateful and in awe.

Thank you.

Random Thought #7
MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN. At what point do Christian conservatives begin to wonder if God is trying to tell them something?

By the way, gay people are not terrible, evil, awful people who hate God and are out to destroy marriage and family. We want the same things everybody else wants. Love. Faith. Hope. Security. Family. Beauty. Happiness. The people who have been fighting for the right to marry have been some of the most stalwart defenders of values that conservatives claim to love.

Did it ever occur to conservatives that our prayers were just and God is finally answering them?

To quote another religious conservative from times long past (quoted here in poetic rhythms of King James English): "And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."

Random Thought #8
I am so grateful for my family. Last night, Glen and his fiancé Will came over to unwrap Christmas presents and share the Christmas spirit. They didn't stay for dinner because Will's family got them on Christmas Eve. We get them tonight for Christmas dinner. We sent presents to Will's parents with them, and they're bringing presents from Will's family tonight. I love family. I love these connections, these relationships, through good times and bad, in wealth and in poverty, in sickness and in health.

Glen and Will have set a date, September 19, 2014. I'm so glad they will be able to marry legally in their home state of Minnesota, where they can be surrounded by all their family and friends.

I'm glad that Utah couples can now do the same.

Random Thought #9
Göran and I are getting old together. I just turned 50 in October, and was almost hospitalized at the end of November for a blood clot in my leg. It was a really BIG blood clot that could have resulted in an embolism or a heart attack. I'm on blood thinners now, and out of any immediate danger, and feeling much better. I'll probably be on blood thinners for the rest of my life, barring any major medical breakthroughs in the next few decades. (I'm still practicing yoga daily and still plan to live to be 100.)

I'm OK. I like the idea of the great love of my life and I turning into old farts together. I'm still wondering how we can leverage all the great and marvelous gifts God has given us into service to those around us, and to the generations that follow us. I want that to be the central concern of the rest of my life.

I'm glad we will soon be able to put this whole marriage equality fight behind us, so we can focus on other very important things.

Random Thought #10 
God rest ye merry, gentle folk, let nothing you dismay.
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day, 
To save us all from Satan's power when we had gone astray! 
Good tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy! 
Good tidings of comfort and joy!

We sang this Christmas Carol -- one of my favorites -- with some wonderful folks at a retirement home on Sunday. The leaders of the carol sing reminded us that in Victorian English, the word "merry" had slightly different connotations. It meant "healthy" or "well."

I love that line, "to save us all from Satan's power when we had gone astray." I'm a fallible human being in need of Christ's salvation. We all need saving. We all need our eyes and our hearts to be opened in different ways. I love that this season gives me an opportunity to remember that. 

Be healthy! Be well! Be grateful!

Merry Christmas!