I’ve been sitting on this post since the citizens of North Carolina voted to amend their state’s constitution effectively banning same-sex marriage.
I’m new to this advocacy and activism thing, so I debated (at length, apparently) whether to go the religious route or the political route to argue for marriage equality.
Growing up in the church, serving as a music minister for over a decade, and going through an ex-gay program (!), I figured I could speak to the issue with some, uh, personal familiarity. And even though I can quote Scripture with the best of them, I know that arguing on the basis of someone’s faith—his or her deeply-held and intensely personal belief system—would be as useless an exercise as wearing pleated pants. Exactly how many times have we changed people’s minds by telling them they’re wrong?
I was also tempted to bring up politics and, more importantly, the impact gay marriage would have on the one thing that truly matters this election year: the economy. I was going to bring up my people’s immoral disposable income and magical prowess in increasing property values in hopes that I’d appeal to the fiscally minded. But alas, politics has never been my strong suit, so I’ll leave it up to screaming pundits to debate this issue along such lines.
So after some reflection, I finally decided that this is why marriage equality matters to me:
This is my fiancé, TJ. I love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him. He’s my person. He’s a Godsend in every sense of the word. I’m a better man because of him.
And like many of you who have found your people, I feel a deep conviction and longing—almost like some basic instinct (the concept, not the skeevy but totally awesome Sharon Stone movie)—to establish my life with this individual.
And I’m not just talking cohabitation and joint bank accounts here. I’m talking the whole “two shall become one” deal, that divine phenomenon when your life becomes inexplicably and forever changed because you’ve shared yourself so fully with someone else.
I want all the rights and responsibilities, both legal and spiritual, associated with marriage. I want to stand before God, the state, and our friends and families and declare my lifetime commitment to TJ.
I want nothing more than what straight, consenting adults currently have the right to do, in every state in this country, every day.
That TJ and I still have to consider actively the states we can live in where we’d be recognized as a married couple is a stark reminder that we’re not quite equal to our heterosexual peers. Not that we’d move to certain states anyway (ahem, North Carolina), but the idea of living in a particular state no longer being an option for us because of our desire to get married is something straight people will never have to experience.
So yes, my argument for marriage equality is purely a personal one. But the decision to get married is, indeed, personal. In fact, it might be the most personal decision anyone could make.
Those of you who know me know that I’m not interested in denouncing anyone’s theology or trashing anyone’s politics, especially when they’re not consistent with *my* deeply-held and intensely personal belief system. All I’m interested in is spending the rest of my life with the person I love in the same expression of commitment that straight people currently enjoy.
I love TJ, and to think that we are not treated in the same way that our friends the Ellises or the Lantinens are pains me.
I’m not naïve. I know I won’t change minds or hearts with such a personal—maybe even selfish—appeal. But I couldn’t sit idly by while the national conversation around gay marriage fills the airwaves, raking all sorts of muck. Justifications for both sides are being thrown around like flaming arrows, and accusations are riling everyone up to the point of counter productiveness.
My hope is that amidst the noise, I can share a small voice and put a face to the issue.
This is my story. And TJ is why marriage equality matters to me.