Dispatch from East Jesus Nowhere

A symbolic marriage cake in favor of allowing ...
A symbolic marriage cake in favor of allowing gay marriages in Italy not only to heterosexual couples but to lesbian and gay ones as well. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, January 26 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure what to say that hasn’t already been said about legalizing gay marriage. Or in this case, domestic partnerships. So going back to writing basics 101, I’m going to stick with what I know.

I live in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, which was dubbed “East Jesus Nowhere” by the movie Juno and later Green Day. The representative of my district is Michele Bachmann, who is famous for being the craziest member of congress. She got her start by crusading against gay marriage with all her energy and vitriol. There are others like her, both Republicans and Democrats, who have fought to redefine marriage as well. It’s not enough that marriages between anyone except a heterosexual male and female are the only ones recognized. Oh no. They’re not comfortable sleeping with the door locked, they want to make sure it’s bordered up, with lights, an alarm system and a large dog. They want to change laws at every level of government possible to Protect Marriage.

People ask me, is it really that conservative where you live? Are the people that close-minded and crazy? Are there regular book burnings and more churches than bars? No, not quite. Don’t get me wrong, there are wackjobs here, like the lady I met down at the YMCA that wants to ban Harry Potter books. However, it is a gerrymandered district that looks like a drunk drew it, and I don’t think the representation of Bachmann is fair or accurate. She doesn’t live here. This is a college town, and a town with a lot of fun-loving drunks and increasingly disenfranchised working people. It’s also increasing in size rapidly, and an influx of Mexican workers, Chicago refugees (no, really) and Somalian refugees are becoming a significant part of our community. The fear of job security and the changes in the area are making people uneasy. The core group of old conservative crankypants is small, but they are loud and organized and praying upon those fears. Bachmann has her finger on the pulse. The rest of us are more polite and disorganized. A good number of us do not hate gay people. There is a small and scrappy group of out and proud individuals. They do not have it easy by any means, but there are straight folks who will stand by them. It’s not hopeless, even here.

I don’t really believe that gay marriage is keeping that many people up at night. Even Bachmann and her buddies that crusade with her in this fight to stop gay marriage and the lesser domestic partnership/civil unions do not care as much as they claim. If they did, then I’d be hearing about it now instead of Bachmann’s latest non-issue, the census. No, they put gay marriage on the alter of sacrifice because they believed that the fear of gay people having equal rights would terrify people into voting for them against their better judgment. Sadly, it worked.

Most people, if they really thought hard about it, would realize that allowing gay people to get married would be not only be harmless but patriotic. Yes, flag-waving patriotic! Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are in the Declaration of Independence. Marriage could be a part of that for some people. Everyone should have the equal right to give it a try. It should not matter what your gender is, any more than it should matter if you are of another race or have a disability or what your religion is. Religion, one might interrupt, is exactly why they should not marry! My cherry-picked misconstrued line from the bible says so! Well, the establishment clause of the first amendment, the one that declares that Congress can make no law respecting an establishment of religion, should render that argument completely irrelevant. We have no national religion in which to use as a basis for writing laws. Sorry.

Some more pesky logic: gay marriage does not threaten existing marriages. Gay marriages do not cause people to become gay somehow. Sometimes people say the children! What about the children? If a straight couple marries and has a gay child, then why would a gay couple with a child have to have a gay child? Follow that logic, and they should be having straight children. Someone might argue, well, the children would learn how to be gay with gay parents! Now think about it – who would CHOOSE to be a member of a group that has less rights and is outwardly hated by many? I know I wouldn’t. To be honest, I’m glad that I’m not gay. My life is hard enough as it is. My parents are going to be celebrating their 50 year anniversary next year. At our last family gathering, they joked about gay marriage, how if by some miracle gays get their rights before then, they are doomed! Certainly the threat against their 50 year marriage would be too much to save it.

Gay couples should have the opportunity to be as miserable as the rest of the people who have bad marriages. They also should be able to have a 50 year long partnership validated by a title and all the rights and benefits that come with it. To say the 24 hour marriage of Britney Spears on a bender is worth more than a lifelong partnership by two loving people is insulting. Gay people should have to right to not just plan weddings but be in them. If they go wrong, they should be able to divorce. I don’t know what is so hard about this to understand. Who wouldn’t want to go to a gay wedding? Who wouldn’t want to see people happy? Why is love such an issue?

It has to come down to good old fashioned homophobia. Those who have this fear of gay people hitting on them, or making them feel all icky and uncomfortable, or whatever. Well, that is childish and pathetic. Grow up, is all I can say to those people. Get over yourselves. Have you ever worried that you might hit on a homosexual and get rejected, or that you’re making one uncomfortable with your straight public displays of affection? Those that freak out the most are usually the ones in denial. Larry Craig, representative from Idaho who was against protecting gays under the federal hate crime law, caught soliciting gay sex in an airport bathroom. Ted Haggard, Evangelical Pastor who taught that homosexuality was an abomination, caught having sex and snorting meth with a male prostitute. And who could forget Washington’s own Jim West, who championed an anti-gay agenda as Senate Majority Leader, was accused with sexually abusing young boys. There are many, many more hypocrites. Maybe Michele Bachmann is a closeted lesbian. It would not surprise me.

It saddens me that this fight in Washington is over domestic partnership and not marriage, although I do think something is better than nothing. Here is a breakdown of the difference between the two. Separate but equal is not equal. It’s just separate. Marriage is a word that should probably just be a religious term, but as long as it affords legal rights to people, it is not. Marriage and all of the benefits that come with it should be available to all couples (that are obviously of age and not closely related). I don’t know what else I can say. Please, if you are in Washington, support Referendum 71! If you’re not in Washington, please support gay marriage. Thank you.

footnote: When I say gay, it is shorthand for gays and lesbians, or GLBTQI…I’m not sure how far the alphabet goes now, but I’m talking about everyone here. We are all equal and human.

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