No, it's not a story of proving the favorite talking point of the religious right. Nor is it a story of my anguish over losing a girlfriend. And I'm truly sorry if you're looking for a swashbuckling tale of the dreaded gay pirates kidnapping my love and converting her to the dark side. Although I think a story with lesbian pirates could be pretty hot... But I digress.
I live in Los Angeles. If you've been celebrating Obama's victory here at Kos, you've also undoubtedly seen the many diaries about Proposition 8. For brevity's sake, I won’t bore you with the laundry list of details. Suffice it to say that a "Yes" vote meant "No" to same-sex marriage and went so far as to put it into the state's Constitution.
I'm recently divorced and was making my first tentative steps back into the dating scene. It's a tough thing to do after nearly a decade out of it and it's especially tough in this town. I decided I wouldn't pursue dating necessarily and I would just do what I like to do and, eventually, I would meet someone.
Sure enough, it happened. I'm a jazz fan. I went to a show. She was there. Simple as that. The attraction was immediate, chemical, animal, whatever you want to call it. Have pheromones been debunked? All I know is it was intense, and after a number of years in a passionless relationship, I found myself completely in awe that I could still feel that way.
The newness hadn't even had a chance to wear off before November 4th reared its head on the calendar like some maniacally cold ex-KGB commandant peering over the vast Alaskan skyline. We were both very excited going into the election, even though she could not vote. You see, my former paramour is an immigrant from Sudan. Though she would go out of her way to tell you she is not African-American, she was very excited to see the possibilities of an African-American becoming president. As was I, for many of the same and many different reasons.
Then came the returns, the sweet, sweeping victory, and, of course, the speech. A speech remarkable for its humility and grace, its serious call for a commitment to work hard and work hard together. A speech that made a very clear point of saying we are all Americans, no matter our color, religion, or sexual orientation. We talked about the speech and both agreed we could literally feel history in the air.
Which brings us to how gay marriage ended our relationship. Though it was certain Obama was the president, many down-ticket races remained undecided. There were important Congressional seats and a few propositions here in California that were too close to call. When I went to bed, Prop. 8 was close, but I figured I would wake up to see my state had done the right thing. And as so seldom happens, I was wrong.
I was angry. I believe it is a civil rights issue and those who voted "yes" are on the wrong side of history. When the subject came up in conversation with my girlfriend, there was a strange silence. It was a truly awkward moment in a relationship that had been effortless and natural. She told me she would have voted "yes" had she been able to.
I asked why and she told me it was wrong, against her religion, and that gay people had a mental defect that could be fixed. I really couldn't believe what I was hearing. I mean, it's not every day the subject of gay people and marriage comes up in a conversation, but I felt that this one moment was a complete revelation. I explained she was wrong on many fronts, that it was in fact not a mental defect that caused people to be gay and that we are talking about civil rights. She did not agree and we did something I don't like to do-- end a conversation angry with each other.
Maybe it sounds stupid, but I had a hard time sleeping that night. I was disturbed. But it took me less than a day of thinking before I knew what I had to do. I told her the next day that if that was what she truly believed, it was a deal breaker. I explained it was fundamental to me, that we are talking about friends of mine, people I adore. And if she didn't see it as a civil rights issue, didn't understand that there is no such thing as "separate but equal," and believed that it is a mental defect that causes people to be gay, that I couldn't be with her.
Life is funny. At least I think so. It helps me cope. I never would have thought that the issue of same-sex marriage would mean the end of my hetero relationship. But now I can honestly look the lunatic right-wingers in the eye and tell them proudly that, yes, gay marriage did ruin my relationship. But not for the reasons they think.
Further, it has inspired me to look into getting my hands dirty. Starting this week, I'm going to begin looking into how I can help fight the Pro-Prop 8 bigots and get this thing thrown out. So if anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears. Change is in the air, and we've got them running scared. I am convinced that with a little bit of education and a lot more organization, it can be done. Like all of you, I'm also tired from being fired up and ready to go for the past year. But we can't let them have this victory. It's too important.
Rec. list? Really? It was the lesbian pirates, wasn't it? I'm claiming intellectual property rights on that, even if it's not very intellectual. Thank you all.