As the Respect for Marriage Act makes it through the Senate, back to the House, and eventually on President Biden's desk to be signed into law, I want to address something which I have been thinking about for a long time.
Those who are followers of this blog probably think that I am going to be talking about the anti-LGBTQ industry and their tantrums about the Respect for Marriage Act.
Not this time.
Instead I want to remind folks what this is all about. Even as we attain the rights we are owed, there exist an argument within the LGBTQ community. Some in the community have accused others of attempting to copy heterosexuals, i.e. adjusting our lives to be just like that of heterosexuals. This mindset to some peoples includes dreams of a life as a Norman Rockwell painting with 2.5 kids, a nice home in the suburbs complete with a white picket fence, and other tokens of a stereotypical idea of the Leave It To Beaver television show. The only difference of course is it's Ward and Ward or June and June leading the family instead of Ward and June.
The folks against this image say that such aspirations are a slap in the face because they imply that LGBTQ people are okay so long as we act like heterosexuals. And this supposedly means a forgetting of our roots, when we were - and still are - the outcasts because of our inability to fit the supposed ideas of normalcy. What's the use of fighting for LGBTQ equality if you think that the goal is to act just like the heterosexuals?
And then there the accusation that the movers and the shakers of the LGBTQ community are wanting this Norman Rockwellian image so much that they sacrifice the push for equality in LGBTQ communities of color and particularly the transgender, bisexual, queer, and other communities which don't fall under the umbrella of "normal." The desire for marriage rights is in some ways seen as a cop-out or a desire to be like heterosexuals because internally there is some self-homophobia afoot.
Well I don't like getting into those discussions because often times, they result in ridiculous tangents in which people go so far in different directions that they end up being angry with each other over something said or the desire to get the last word in.
I'm a 51-year-old gay man. Over 25 years ago when I was coming to grips with my sexual orientation, what pained me to the point of so much misery was that other people, who didn't even care to know me, were making decisions about how my life would be. From the legislators like Jesse Helms or Sam Nunn trying to undermine my future through the legislative process , to preachers like Jerry Falwell telling all sorts of lies about me in the pulpit, to organizations like the Family Research Council pushing along bogus research papers and making speeches about my so-called radical agenda.
These folks never knew me but the things they said and did affected me in an extremely negative sense. Based upon their beliefs and false ideas of entitlement, they told this young gay man - me - that I have no rights to a future decided my wishes and desires. They were telling me that I don't get to pick my path. They, on the other hand, get to tell who I am, who I can love, how I can love, and what my future will be as decided by their parameters. I had no say on anything. Instead, they got to determine my future. They had the first, middle, and last about my life. And if I didn't like it, then too bad.
You see, that's what it's all about to me, whether it be the fight for marriage rights or any other rights in the LGBTQ community. It's not about wanting to be just like heterosexuals or forgetting where you came from. It's about the ability to make our own choices. I feel this way - if you are an LGBTQ person who wants that Norman Rockwellian dream, then you have a right to have it. If you are an LGBTQ person who wants something else, then you have that right to make choices.
You have that right to determine which direction your life will go, not some conservative legislator, preacher, or anyone else wanting to reduce your choices. They don't have that right. It doesn't belong to them. And no laws, ordinances, or religious books gives them that right either.
That's what the Respect for Marriage Act, marriage equality in general or any other LGBTQ right is to me - the power of self-determination.. Your power to make choices unencumbered by someone else's prejudice, religious beliefs, or ignorance. Marriage is not the only right LGBTQ people should have. It's one of many. And instead of arguing about it, we should get busy in yanking more rights out of the hands of those who falsely think they should have to power to dole them out to us.