Issue March 9, 2010

Will you civil union me?

I used to be politically active. I would regularly write letters to my representatives in Congress, sign petitions and attend protests. I volunteered at the Fairness Campaign booth at the State Fair in the 1990s, and kids from all over Kentucky would approach seeking information, asking questions I wouldn’t dare repeat to my mother.

But in recent years, my activism has more or less ceased. Now, I find myself being over the whole struggle for same-sex marriage thing. After decades of seemingly small victories and crushing setbacks, I just zone out when I hear arguments about the sacred institution of marriage. The whole thing is a crazy hot mess. I would prefer to simply enjoy being with my partner without having to worry about the “rights and responsibilities” we don’t get. The problem is, these days I spend more time playing Wii and Facebooking than I do helping the equal rights movement. I spend more time acting like an old married lady than I do fighting for my right to be an old married lady.

Last week, in an attempt to somehow reignite a political strategy while keeping myself entertained, I tried to understand the other side. What would I say if I were a conservative, right-wing congressman who opposes same-sex marriage? Probably something like, “If we let them homosexuals marry each other, then what’s next? Someone could marry an animal or an inanimate object.” And, truth be told, I can’t argue with that. I have already had a commitment ceremony with a hand-woven, fluorescent pink scarf, which was not recognized by the state. And we are very happy.

But seriously, though, how can we really gain power? How about a scare tactic? What would be the scariest monster in the eyes of my opponent? My best bet would be an enormous, wildly dressed drag queen who hides in my closet and laughs maniacally, whispering its ne’er-do-well chant — Sashay! Shante! Said drag queen would wait until I fall asleep and then pounce, ultimately seeking to live happily ever after. But, in reality, I just don’t see how we can get RuPaul to hide in the closet. I was all out of ideas on how to speed up the LGBT movement, so I pulled the old distraction tactic: “What’s that over there? Girl Scout cookies!”

Just when I was ready to give up and stop chasing the end of the same-sex marriage rainbow, something official happened. On March 3, Washington, D.C., became the sixth jurisdiction in the United States to legally permit same-sex couples to marry, granting them the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples (after Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire). Gay couples lined up at the D.C. Superior Court last week to exercise a right that took more than three decades to achieve. We actually won. When I heard the news, the positive political activist in me stirred, but I had forgotten how to celebrate these kinds of victories. So, I posted it on Facebook with a “Yay!”

Could the LGBT movement actually be moving?

The next day, Mexico City enacted a law allowing same-sex couples not only to legally wed, but also to adopt children and be included in each other’s insurance policies. These are rights that were denied under the previous “civil unions.” For Latin Americans, this event marked the first law recognizing gay marriage, allowing them to celebrate a victory following an immeasurable amount of struggle.

Both triumphs truly have the potential to impact the decisions of our politicians and to give a voice to those who have long supported civil rights. And who knows how many same-sex couples will benefit? In these victories, we can witness a preview of what is sure to eventually unfold across the country, if we offer our support. That said, I am ready to put down my Wii controller and once again become politically involved. I feel like a teammate sitting on the bench during an important game, and I want to get back to being a player in the fight for social change.

Of course, anti-gay conservatives will continue to oppose these efforts, but now it seems it isn’t a matter of if LGBT couples will get federal recognition, but when. Maybe my political opponent’s real fear is not a closet-busting drag queen boogeyman but a happy little old lezzie me — married, in love, and with insurance.