|The happy couple in 1992|
Big news from my state: our legislature passed gay marriage and the bill is on its way to Governor Christine Gregoire for her signature, which she promises to deliver Monday. Just in time for Valentines Day. Oooh, wee! Phew! Raise your mimosa, girlfriend! I’m trying to take it all in, because it’s evidently going to irrevocably change my life, or so says groups at CPAC and covens like Concerned Women for America. They tell us this week’s Ninth Circuit Court's ruling, which overturned California's Prop 8, and the upcoming extension of nuptials to Washington State’s gay and lesbian community are the end of marriage and ultimately the family. Or, as the girls at Concerned Women for America warn, “homosexual marriage will devalue your marriage. A license to marry is a legal document by which government will treat same-sex marriage as if it were equal to the real thing.” They go on to argue:
“If the Smithsonian Museum displays a hunk of polished blue glass next to the Hope Diamond with a sign that says, ‘These are of equal value,’ and treats them as if they were, the Hope Diamond is devalued in the public's eye. The government says it's just expensive blue glass. The history and mystery are lost too.”
Holy hardest known natural material! As a teacher who starts every year with a unit on logic and fallacies, those ladies have seduced me with their clear metaphorical reasoning! (That didn’t sound too gay did it?) Moreover, the idea that my polished blue glass marriage might get plunked down next to a Hope Diamond coupling...Oops. (Sorry, I have a hard time telling diamonds from cubic zirconia—they’re both lovely at ten paces.) That’s the other way around. Let’s fix that. The idea that my Hope Diamond marriage might get plunked down next to a piece of polished blue glass…well you can see that I’m bound as a blogger to detail out how much I’ll miss my marriage and my husband once this whole thing unravels as a result of some guys with good taste tying what will no doubt be a fabulous knot. And you can bet your evangelical tight asses when they do, the guys exchanging vows with a Northwest software industry backdrop won’t be wearing cubic zirconia!
The Concerned girls for America are justifiably worried that history and mystery will be lost. It’s probably a good idea here to tell you a bit about the history and mystery of my marriage, just so you’ll see how much I’ll lose when these gays break up my twenty-year union.
In terms of history, I met my husband after spending a summer researching frontier prostitution in Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene mining district. I came back to my teaching job that fall with boxes of nineteenth century police records, fire insurance maps and more research than any master’s thesis could ever use. I’d been on a research project of sorts for the right guy up to that age (30), and like beads on a rosary, I had collected the right guy (or so I thought before then) at the wrong time, nice guys most of the time, and then wrong guys too much of the time.
In a 1980 VW Rabbit with the backseat removed for his Samoyed, my teacher husband drove into my life. His big, white doggie buddy rarely rode in the back, though, simply because he preferred to ride shotgun and snack on Twizzlers with the boss. I was absolutely bedazzled. For this scene contrasted sharply to the previous guy I’d dated, a wealthy Seattle businessman who couldn’t date on Sundays, because that was the day he washed his expensive yuppie car. Guess which bead on the rosary he was.
Mr. 1980 VW Rabbit and I flirted for a few weeks, and then he got up the courage to leave a sticky note under my door asking me on a date. (I’ve still got that sticky note in my jewelry box.) That date all but cinched the deal for me, and within a month I was packing up my cozy little beach cottage and moving in with him and a dog with a penchant for Twizzlers.
That’s the beginning of our history. The mystery I suppose is marriage itself, that journey that puts you on roads you never dreamed you’d travel. I now ride shotgun, or to be more precise, he often does because I have a problem with chicken breaking. On our journey we’ve driven through a rough pregnancy and all the subsequent twists and turns and lovely country of raising our beautiful daughter. My husband travels with a high maintenance partner that he takes too often to emergent care for migraine rescues, where he sits quietly in dark rooms until the medicine kicks in and my vomiting stops. He travels with someone who’s had to stop the journey for surgery several times, including neurosurgery. On this journey we’ve remodeled houses and our original expectations of marriage. We’ve battled, unpacked our past baggage, and then figured out what baggage to continue to carry and what to leave behind. We’ve laughed and laughed and laughed. We’ve buried our family members and held each other in that grief. We’ve carefully red-penned road maps, and now we’re heading to a new direction together next year, a new life neither of us would have dreamed even five years ago would ever be possible. Regardless of what opportunities or travails await us around the next turn, I plan on remaining strapped in next to this best of all friends and men, because I love him madly. Yeah, I’ll sure miss him now that gay marriage is around. I’m damn sure all of our hard-earned bond will suddenly veer off this matrimonial road.
Now let’s rationally examine if a gay or lesbian coupling could match what we have, and if they can’t, then I suppose, like those bun-coiffed white breads at Concerned Women for America, I’ll just have to follow their diamond/blue glass logic. Let’s take a fictitious lesbian couple, for example. I can think more like a lesbian than a gay male for obvious reasons. Plus, I do have a promise to myself that should I ever cross that sexual Rubicon, I’m shooting for a three-way with Rachel Maddow and Stephanie Miller. But I digress…
Would a lesbian ever go through relationship after relationship in her twenties awaiting Ms. Right? And then, upon meeting her, immediately know it and rush headlong into the relationship? Check.
Would a lesbian get all smitten by a canine-toting smart girl in an old car? Oh hell yes. Or then stick with that smart girl, and that smart girl stick with her through childbirth, parenting, medical crises, grief, and all of life’s changing directions? Uh…yeah. Could those two love each other madly? Well, of course. Why is that hard to understand?
So which then is diamond and which is cubic zirconia? Nobody knows until they’ve been in marriage for a while. There are no guarantees. The only thing that makes a marriage a diamond is its hardness, its imperviousness to chipping and the hot pressures of the world. And that quite frankly is based in values, luck, timing, and a commitment to one another. The hard work of marriage isn’t packed between your legs. Marriage is a diamond if it helps two people travel through this big mean world; marriage is a diamond if it gives two people diamond strength.
But those smug klugs at Concerned Women for America counter with one more metaphor to support their diamond reasoning. And this one is as brilliant as they are:
“If government grants professional licenses to just anybody, every profession and qualified professional is devalued. The government says an uneducated panhandler can do brain surgery.”
Clearly those girls’ polyester pantsuits are chaffing in places they shouldn’t. This is what we call arguing through inappropriate metaphor in my government classes, and oh, what a beauty of an example. Makes me almost want to teach next year and not retire just so I can share this one in my opener unit. I said almost.