Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prop8 or Prop-hate?

On January 1, 1994 I had been married 11 years and had two small children. My husband and I sat down to talk about the problems we were having. It was a new year and I was creating an opportunity to start fresh. Our arguments and his general mood had progressively worsened. He wasn’t happy and neither was I.
The discussion was sane and amicable but the lines were drawn. We both needed to commit 100 percent to mending the relationship or there was no need in going further. He agreed but wanted time to think. As we both took in a deep breath, I felt like I had literally been hit with a lightening bolt. I don’t know where the question came from or why I asked at that moment. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the answer.
“You’re gay, aren’t you?”
He paused and responded, “Yes.” Tears welled up in his eyes.
I crossed the room to where he was sitting and knelt down, hugging him, reassuring him.
“It’s okay,” I said. “At least now I know what is wrong and why you’ve been so miserable.”
He hadn’t acted on his homosexuality. He certainly didn’t choose to be gay. He wanted desperately to meet society’s definition of normal. “I wanted the house with the white picket fence and the 2.3 children and a station wagon in the driveway,” he said. He knew he found men attractive but assumed it was natural curiosity and suppressed his feelings. The harder he tried to suppress his natural feelings, the more unsettled he became.
I wasn’t angry with him for being gay because I knew it wasn’t his fault. And I certainly knew it wasn’t my fault! I was always aware of people that were homosexual but their sexuality didn’t affect me. News stories and documentaries of people scorned or abused based solely on what happens behind closed doors appalled me. I offered my then-husband support as he ventured ahead in life with his true self while mourning the loss of the life we had planned together.
I could (and may) write a book about the intricacies that followed. We divorced but still raised our children as a united force. We hung out with mutual friends, fought, laughed and loved others. Expounding upon those issues at this time however, would not suit the purpose of this blog.
My purpose for “coming out” with a personally sacred topic is to speak to the issues surrounding Proposition 8 in California. I’m straight, and live on the east coast in a notch on the Bible belt so why should I care? My heart tells me others are hurting. My head tells me California is full of progressively-minded people yet the majority voted for this atrocious proposition.
According to proponents, the proposition merely defines marriage: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California." Still, they had a basketful of scare tactics creating smoke and mirrors for the general populace.
Anyone that will use a child as a shield is repugnant yet people succumb to ridiculous fears. The California school system, like most, provides comprehensive sexual health education in grades K-12 including “the legal and financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood…Instruction and materials shall teach respect for marriage and committed relationships.” Pro-prop8ers insist that kindergarteners will become indoctrinated to man-man and woman-woman marriages.
Let’s stretch the imagination to believe a teacher would sit in a circle with 30 5-year-olds for just such instruction. She holds up a felt board with three female figures and three male figures. “Now boys and girls, I bet you are familiar with families that have a Mommy and Daddy who are married.” She places a female and male on the board together. “But in some families there are two daddies (male and male figures are side by side) and some have two mommies (two felt fems side up together).” If the teacher does as the school code says, she would continue, “In all of these cases, these people love each other, respect each other and are married or committed to each other.”
The children now know that relationships are important and that they should respect those relationships. Pausing to think a moment.
Since I don’t see a problem there, let me delve a bit further. Perhaps the issue that pro-prop8ers have is kids learning about sexual intercourse between same-sex partners. I’d have to take issue there as well, since school systems focus on reproduction in health classes. Telling kindergarteners about any form of bedroom romp is generally not in the lesson plans.
Children live in a world surrounded by adults who are single, divorced, unmarried couples, in May-December relationships, interracial marriages, and homosexual parents.
To support children and families, society stresses the importance of committed parents. Yet people who want to take the step of signing paperwork and want to be recognized as a married couple are being denied these rights based on sexual origin.
My children were told the truth about our divorce. We told them it was not a secret but that they should be very, very careful who they shared their story with because most people wouldn’t understand.
That was 15 years ago and it looks like most people still don’t understand.

12 comments:

  1. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. The more people see the faces of the people they hate are actually the faces of the individuals they love, the closer we'll be to a tolerant society.

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  2. Got here from a Twitter post by Queen of Spain. I appreciate your honesty and was enthralled by your story. I find the prejudice towards homosexuality appalling. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  3. Thank you for telling your story, it brought tears to my eyes. We will get past this and learn from this, the fight for equality does not end here.

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  4. I love this post.

    I totally agree with how you set up the kindergarten situation. I am going to use that to teach my kids to respect marriage and commited relationship.

    Thank you for writing this.

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  5. Thank you ... one of the reasons I took so long between my last post and this one was that I could think of nothing else. I truly felt compelled to share but know the reality of potential fallout. It's difficult to reach out and worry who's gonna slap a hand!

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  6. Thank you for being so brave in the face of such opposition.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your journey. You echoed my thoughts about Prop 8. I have a cousin who is gay and who flew to Vermont to marry his partner. It shouldn't have to be that way.

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  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you - everyone's comments and support mean a great deal. I agonized over this post but am hoping one story will lead to another ... Thanks to those of you who share their stories as well. It's not easy -

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  9. Thanks for your post. Wonderful words of wisdom. I often think that if the people who are yelling about this would quiet down, they could listen to each other and learn stories like yours. Then they'd find that we all know what it's like to have loved, found something wrong in the relationship and found a way to keep on loving (in a different way.) You show that it takes loving parents - gay or straight or both - to raise children. And indeed, families come in many shapes and sizes.

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  10. Also here via Queen of Spain's Twitter. Thank you for sharing your story. Your love and support of your children's father is a blessing to him and to them.

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