Give Us a Chance
by: Sheila Reuther
I laugh every time I hear the phrase, "Marriage Protection Week." Is it really necessary to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marriage that the "tro's" (heterosexuals) guard so sacredly? Isn't there a Dick's Divorce Shack on every corner in every town right next to Bubba's Chapel of Bliss? The going rate for divorce is 50 % if I'm not mistaken. So that means in a room of 10 "tro's," 5 of them will stay married and 5 of them will divorce.
The religious right "tro's" have gone and outdone themselves with this brainchild. So the Jerry Falwell's and Fred Phelps's of the world say that gay and lesbian couples are immoral and going to rot in hell. Personally, from my journeys in the Bible, I've never once encountered the very phrase that Fred Phelps uses for his Internet domain. I'm not a "tro" hater, I actually find them amusing. They claim that we flaunt our homosexuality but last time I checked they can make out in parks and practically engage in deplorable acts in public and nobody bats an eye at them. I make an affectionate gesture at my girlfriend and I'm asking for an old-fashioned lynching.
This country, the United States of America, was founded on the principles of equality. Equality for everyone in everything, not just what those in power deem worthy of approval. Equality comes with a condition, gays and lesbians can be equal so long as they are quiet about it. I say, how is that equal? It's not, plain and simple. Without equality for ALL Americans, we are not united.
On November 18, 2003, a landmark decision was made in Massachusetts that allows same-sex marriages. This is finally a step toward equality for ALL in this country. I have lived in Michigan my whole life. I've lived in a handful of cities in my 28 years of life on this planet. I have been discriminated against for being a woman, for being fat and for being a lesbian. While I could stand to lose a few pounds and I could have a sex change if I so desire, I cannot change my sexual orientation. There is no magical pill or book or class that I can take and be "cured" of my lesbianism. I am a lesbian, I was born a lesbian, and I will be a lesbian for the rest of my life. I am proud to be a lesbian! I would like to see other states look to Massachusetts as a guideline of equality. In a few cities in Michigan there are businesses and agencies that offer benefits to same-sex or domestic partnership couples. While this is an admirable step in the right direction, it needs to be more.
How many of the 1,049 marriage rights and responsibilities are taken for granted everyday by the average "tro" in America? How about when a loved one goes into the hospital? How about when you and your husband or wife sit in the lobby of your local Public Assistance office? Veteran's benefits? Employment benefits? I could list each and every one of the rights and responsibilities and I would be willing to bet that there would be several hundred that "tro's" take for granted. While I may not have every single one memorized, I do know a few that, if given the chance for a civil marriage, I would hold dearly.
Employment benefits tops my list. If I am fortunate to find a job that allows same-sex benefits or domestic partnership benefits, I have to show proof of my commitment since I don't have the standard marriage license. I have to show a committed relationship of at least one year in length. I could have benefits but my partner would have to wait until we could supply enough proof of our commitment to each other. If we were allowed marriage we could show our certificate and everything would be immediate. If I am hospitalized, my partner could not be by my side because they are not considered family. If I am allowed a civil marriage my wife could be allowed to be at my side, no questions asked. If my partner and I were going through hard times and needed assistance from the government, we would not be allowed the same benefits as the married "tro's" are allowed. If I was allowed a civil marriage, my wife and I could apply together and receive equal benefits.
The argument for civil marriage is simple, do we continue to be discriminated against as gays and lesbians or will we begin to be seen as equals?
Sheila Reuther is a 28-year-old lesbian relocating soon to Kalamazoo, Michigan from Battle Creek, Michigan (better job opportunities, closer to my girlfriend). She was recently dismissed from a very stressful job which she believes God was watching out for my best interests. Since being unemployed she has been able to spend more time with her girlfriend of almost four months and her son (cat, actually) Littleman.
Copyright © 2004 by the author