Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why Marriage Matters

October, for those of you who do not already know, is LGBTQ History Month.  This time of year always inspires in me a need to reflect, to write about myself as a self-identified lesbian in context of the world in which I walk, live, and breathe.  Usually I end up settling for a post regarding why coming out still matters, or what self-love might mean in the context of identity.

This year, something remarkable happened, and my whole planned blog post went to hell.  Just yesterday afternoon, I saw a headline I never expected to see:

"Same Sex Marriage is Now Legal in Oklahoma"

I always wondered what I would feel like when this day came for me.  As a teenager, I didn't think I'd see the day when it was legal in any more than a handful of super blue states.  As a new adult, I didn't think I'd see it legal in my home state in my lifetime.  And as a betrothed thirty-year-old woman, I didn't think I'd see it legal in time for my own wedding.

Why Marriage Matters

My partner and I met on September 19, 2010.  We hit it off pretty much immediately.  Our first date, which we'd planned to be a trip to the OKC Zoo, became coffee and then the zoo.  That became coffee, the zoo, and dinner.  That became coffee, the zoo, dinner, and a movie.  And if it hadn't been a Sunday, we probably would have continued with more coffee, desert, etc.  I knew right away that this meeting would result in something special.  By October 23, 2010, she'd gotten down on one knee (very cutely, I might add) and asked if I would be her girlfriend.  It's still one of the cutest memories I have of our early romantic relationship.

A little less than a year later, I was in a very rough place.  I'd made the decision not to pursue my Ph.D., partially because I didn't want to leave Katherine behind.  I'd had difficulty finding a decent paying job and was making a bit more than minimum wage working a job for which I had no love at all.  I was miserable, and I couldn't even afford the love of my life a birthday present.  But, as sure then as I am today, I asked whether we might upgrade from "girlfriend" to "partner."  She accepted immediately.  From then on, no word less permanent than that would do.

Another year later, I asked her to marry me.

Yet another year later, we set a tentative date.

Yet another year later (as of this month), we began actually making plans.

And next year, when we finally do finish up our wedding plans and "tie the knot" it will be legal for us to do so.  We had planned on using our honeymoon to go somewhere we could make the marriage official.  Now we don't have to.  We can go on the trip we'd always dreamed of rather than the trip we needed to make.

I should be thrilled (and of course I am) that the thousands of Oklahomans without legal protection for their partners can now more easily obtain those protections.  I should be bouncing off the walls with joy.  But in the light of day, I must force a very grim reality.  If, after our wedding, my partner and I drive home to visit my family in Mississippi, those legal protections disappear in an instant.  It's as if we no longer exist as a legally bound couple.  If, God forbid, something should happen to my family, I might not be allowed to care for/foster/adopt my sister's children.  If we have a wreck out on Highway 82 and I am gravely injured, my power-of-attorney very well might revert back to my parents.  They could, if they chose, take those rights away from my partner.

That's why marriage MATTERS.  This issue can no longer be a religious issue--even Christian denominations and individual churches differ with regard to same-sex relationships and their associated legal protections.  It's still, however, a moral issue.

It's immoral for anyone to deny other people the right to define their own family structures legally. Neither blood nor gender makes a family; love does.

It's immoral that grown adults intentionally make young people feel lesser than their peers because of their attractions or gender expression.  People's sense of worth should be tied to their personal achievements and their inherent value and humanity; gender and sexual expression should not even enter the equation.

It's immoral to equate my love for another consenting, mentally competent adult to pedophilia or bestiality.  When the U.S. allows underage children or animals to enter into legally binding agreements, I will be happy to join the masses in the protest line.

It's immoral for one person's right to freedom of religion to extend so far as to deny me the right to practice mine.  My religious beliefs require that I be faithful and monogamous to my one chosen partner; I welcome you the right to be faithful (or not) to yours.

It's immoral that the church of my birth will host a woman's third marriage with joy (even when its savior specifically decried divorce) but will not even validate my first marriage to my one and only long-term partner.

And it's immoral that my relationship to my partner is somehow seen as less valued--non-existent even-- when I cross state lines because of the genitalia I was given at birth.  That's not only homophobia; it's sexism, and it's disgusting.

At the end of the day, I don't care what you think of me or of my life choices.  I don't even ask that you respect them.  I ask only that you give me the freedom to pursue my happiness the same way you're allowed to pursue yours, and to allow me to protect my loved ones just as you'd like to do.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly, Amalie! Wonderful post, and congratulations on your upcoming marriage! I honestly never understood why the idea of same-sex marriage puts so many people in a tizzy. Live an let live, I say. :)

    1. I know, right? I think there are just certain groups of people in power who cannot stand any threat to that power. I think for them, non-traditional marriage signals changing attitudes toward religion in general, and once religion itself is no longer the norm, those individuals will lose power. It's an unthinkable concept.

      Personally, I believe religion in one form or another will always be a part of any people's lives. It's just the form that spirituality takes that threatens some.

      And I'll hop off my soapbox now. :-D Thanks again for the wonderful comment!

    2. Yes, I think you're right, it comes down to people fearing change and the loss of control. It's very much the mindset of people who view themselves as an individual (or as a group) separate from the rest of the world instead of embracing the idea of everyone and everything being connected and working toward unity and peace.