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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

marriage, ignorance and Sarah Palin

It's time we discuss something that has been on mind lately.  I can think of no better day than this one to do so.

Today is election day.  It was exactly a year ago today that the state of Maine voted to take away the right to marry from same sex couples.  I want to be over it.  I do.  But nothing like a wedding and election time to bring it all up again.

Sandi and I attended a wedding this weekend and (please know this has very little to do with the people who got married and everything to do with my own experience and feelings) as I sat through the vows I leaned over to Sandi and whispered, "Oh, my goodness.  I think I'm a cynic."

Allow me to back up.

Fighting to keep the right to marry last year completely changed my view of marriage.  For that matter, so has having a 10 year committed relationship. I no longer see marriage as some state of love and bliss.  I think love and bliss are great and I strive for them daily, but I think that marriage itself has very little in common with love and bliss.  Sure love needs to be present for a marriage to be happy and fulfilling but love alone cannot sustain a marriage.  The longer Sandi and I are together, the more I love her yet the more unromantic the notion long-term love seems to me.  I think instead of hard work, commitment, patience, understanding, self-discovery, compromise, the ability to see someone as they are rather than who you think they are or wish them to be.  And yes, I think of devotion, tenderness, safety, affection, laughter, promise, holding hands, curling into each other in the deep of night. 

So when I hear people promise the unpromiseable to each other, I kind of cringe a little.  Hasn't the divorce rate proven that when we say we will "love you forever until death do us part" we aren't qualified to make such a promise? Having been someone who has said these vows I feel qualified to make such a bold statement. I mean, does anyone say "I will forever" and plan NOT to?  When you join two people together, with the intention of it being for the rest of your lives, and especially if you add kids to the mix, aren't you bound to get bumps, bruises, small fractures, even breaks and maybe some internal wounds?  What happens to happily ever after when the dress comes off, the thank you notes go out, the toilet breaks, the mortgage is late and your betrothed can't put the toothpaste cap back on, is always late for dinner and has friends you don't like?

Sometimes I feel like when people enter into a state of matrimony, they feel they exist in some protected vessel where they can just coast along through the current of life.  THIS state of matrimony is not one I wish to enter.  I wish to have the legal rights associated with marriage.  The relationship part?  The state and society have no hold on that.  We can take care of that.  I just want the rights.  But most weddings I attend (Katie and Alex yours is certainly NOT among them) it seems the participants have arrived at matrimony, at the white dress, the wedding, the Mr. and Mrs. and will comfortably rest there.  I mean, if we believe in "happily ever after" aren't we just setting ourselves up to fail???

I was discussing with the groom of the wedding today that I appreciated that he didn't come to our table when the "single" ladies catch the bouquet since he was walking around drumming up business.  (He would have gotten and earful if he had.)  He said, "Of course not, you two are married."  I informed him that we in fact aren't, that it isn't legal for us to be.  He said, "Well, but you ARE, really anyway."  He meant we are committed, we love each other, we have a family.

I was polite but I wanted to scream.  NO WE ARE NOT ALLOWED.  Marriage is a LEGAL commitment, not just an emotional one. I told him a few of the rights we don't have because we can't get married.  He seemed confused, and, I mean this in the nicest possible way, ignorant.  As in, unknowing.  Wait, you can't have Sandi's social security and she can't have yours??  No, it's not romantic but it's a fact.  I told him about our 3 inch wills, my inability to use her medical flex account anymore.  I didn't mean to rain on his parade but I can't stand to have these facts ignored.

Then I told me he was going to vote for Sarah Palin so we could get a female in office.  Oh, jeez. Talk about moving in the WRONG direction. 

I saw someone else later as I was leaving the gym and asked him if he had gone to vote yet.

"Nah, I don't vote."


Sandi wrote a really fun card to the couple with our gift. We thought up all the ridiculous expressions you see on wedding cards: "wedded bliss"  "happily ever after"  "prince charming" and on and on.  She wrote those in and then under them:  "hahahahaha!!!"  followed by real, heartfelt wishes for the real things couples need to sustain them rather than the empty calorie statement about 2 souls becoming one.

As we listened to the wedding vows, I turned to Sandi and said, "I'm not sure they are going to think our card is funny."


Angela said...

It is ignorance. I think a lot of people just don't get it. And if they don't know anyone whose lives are affected in this way, than why would they? That is why you need to keep preaching like that whenever you can, as well do all of us, so people will understand the difference between civil unions and marriage. Keep it up!


Katie said...

you knew i'd read that, didn't you? ;o) i'm watching election results and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. people suck. esp. the people out there making decisions about OUR lives. i'm sick of it. we need marriage equality at the federal level. i'm done with this state crap. go BIG or go HOME. boo-effing-yeah.

Trish said...

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! You mean to tell me that if Brock and I say, "I do" our lives and relationship won't just miraculously become all warm sunny days at the beach and cool nights by the fire, cuddled in each others arms?! We won't automatically like all the same things and want to spend every moment together?!?! We'll still be two individuals who deeply move one another trying to figure out how to make it work... when sometimes it just isn't easy?!
Well, thanks a lot, sister. Marriage is ruined. ;)

As for your rights, if only people knew... FYI, I haven't shopped at Target or Best Buy in a long time... and I hardly miss them now. I can stay away from Target, but Best Buy's gonna be tough... they're a specialty store!

Christine Nichols said...

I've been thinking back to last year also and how crushing it was. We tried to move forward last year and this year we're heading backwards. Think we're all about to renew our activism.

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