Home > Uncategorized > The Pursuit Of Happiness

The Pursuit Of Happiness

“Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.” – Anonymous


On Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at approximately 11:00 PM EST Barack Obama was declared President-Elect and many in the nation exploded into jubilation. After months of wondering if this country, only 40 years removed from the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, would elect a biracial man as her president, it felt like we had come far. It seemed as if America was more united than she had been since that nation-changing Tuesday morning seven years ago.

I personally was on what could easily be referred to as an election high for almost the next 24 hours. Nothing could bring me down.

You’d think I’d have learned by now that fate is determined to prove I am her bitch. Yet my stubborn ass just keeps trying her. Obviously, I have a masochistic streak and enjoy learning my life lessons from the School of Hard Knocks.

Ask and ye shall receive.

I am speaking of course about California’s Proposition 8. I had been on my way home from class when I get a call from Ruth telling me the results.

My heart dropped somewhere in the vicinity of my left shoe and a great deal of the optimism I had been feeling turned into inarticulate anger. I remember having to count backwards in Spanish just so I would not let loose a stream of profanity in public.

Hearing my own congregation speak on how we should support the passing of Prop 8 actually made me leave during Mass. I could not sit there and listen to Father Oaks, someone I have come to respect and trust, say that it was not an attack on the homosexual community but a defense of marriage. Nor could I hear the rationale that marriage was always intended to be one man and one woman.

Oh really? So I’m just imagining the stories of Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon? All of whom had multiple wives and yet are touted as men we should aspire to be similar to. I despise hypocrisy so please do not waste my time using it to strengthen your argument.

Furthermore, where exactly in the Bible does it condemn same-sex marriage? I’ve looked extensively and have yet to uncover a single verse that expressly condemns a loving, monogamous relationship between two people of the same gender. In fact, look up the story of the relationship between Daniel, David, and Ruth as an example.

As for Prop 8 not being an attack on the homosexual community, that is akin to claiming Jim Crow and the Apartheid were not attacks against those of colour but merely to protect the stability of the nation. Then some have the nerve to claim that gay couples are still afforded all kinds of rights. Even some moderates say that civil unions should be enough.

Does the phrase “separate yet equal” mean anything these days?

In four states, it is expressly prohibited for lesbians and gays to adopt children and even in the states where it is allowed, there is a myriad of rules and prohibitions that make this very difficult.

Imagine that your wife has just died. You are sick with grief and the worry that your adopted child will be taken away by the state. Then have that same child die in a car crash barely two weeks from her fifteenth birthday. Now nearly a near later, you are pregnant with twins and seriously considering marrying your girlfriend. And every day, you feel ill worrying what might happen to those children should something happen to you. This is Mami’s life.

I was asked why I care so much about Prop 8 when I myself am straight. You want to get personal, fine, we’ll go personal.

Growing up, I learned fairly early in my childhood that I could not depend on my parents. My mom had too much work to do and my dad…well, he couldn’t really be bothered to care. As horrible as it sounds, I was fairly convinced that family was largely useless. I thought marriage was something only the older generation (like my great-grandparents) could make work.

You say you want to protect the children?

As far as I am concerned I was raised by Rose and Mami. They have always done whatever they could for me. They took an interest in my life and my happiness. I will never forget me calling them my family for the first time and the crying, smiling mass of limbs we were on their pool deck that night years ago. They were the only people under the age of 70 who wanted to protect me.

I was overcome with emotion when I saw that they had long thought to legally adopt me. Those papers were proof that someone somewhere wanted me as their child, something I had long doubted. I am proud to call them my moms and would have been prouder to still to have that recognized by the state.

Were it not for them, I would see marriage as a crock of shit. So how can it be that they and those like them are destroying the institution?

I don’t understand.

It’s a strange parallel when just shortly after my parents had their first birthdays, anti-miscegenation laws were rendered to be no longer in effect. These laws had been held to protect the sanctitiy of race. Now four decades later, we worry about the sanctitiy of marriage.

Daybreak, with all the innocence and clear-sight of a child, has said it best when she said, “no one can tell Auntie Imogen (who is her godmother) that she can’t get married. She should have a happily ever after too!”

Sweetheart, truer words were never spoken.

So it is that I must temper my excitement in the wake of President-Elect Obama’s win. We have come so very far in our short history.

This is true.

However, the passing of Proposition 8 also shows that we have so very far to go.

I will not give up hope though.

Los Gemelos Nuevos deserve to have their family acknowledged and supported.

Imogen and Ruth deserve to have the right to get married should they choose.

For that to happen, we must acknowledge and stand by the fact that marriage is a right, not a priveledge.

In 1967, then Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the decision of the Supreme Court Case Loving v. Virginia:

“The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

If not now, then when?

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  1. Mel
    November 7, 2008 at 1:12 AM

    Would it sound too trite if I just said, “Ditto”? I mean it as anything but trite…

  2. The Odd Duck
    November 7, 2008 at 1:17 AM

    No Ma’am you would not.

  3. Diane
    November 7, 2008 at 2:49 AM

    Love your words… love your passion… love your beliefs… love your hope… XO

  4. X.T.
    November 7, 2008 at 3:18 AM

    With the protests and lawsuits that Prop. 8 is stirring up, we can only hope that they will do away with it. Not that the lawsuits should be the reason why they do away with it, but if it’s the only way, then, sadly, it’s the only way.

  5. Brandy
    November 7, 2008 at 5:46 AM

    This is a fantastic post, truly. It’s so refreshing to read someone who is so strong in their beliefs and articulates them so well. I think many people are feeling something similar- excited, elated even- with the OBama win but still deeply disappointed with Prop 8.

  6. j
    November 7, 2008 at 7:54 AM

    I agree, I love your passion. And yes, I feel the same way. I can’t believe prop 8 was passed..I definitely voted against it. It’s so sad to see…

  7. Cayman's Girl
    November 7, 2008 at 12:10 PM

    Well Said! Your passion rocks!

    CG

  8. nikkinicole
    November 7, 2008 at 2:55 PM

    Beautiful, beautiful words.

  9. Cant Hardly Wait
    November 7, 2008 at 7:20 PM

    This post was great. It’s so refreshing to know that there really is people out there who have a heart.

    Alas, this is America. The nation itself is stuck back in the “old days”. I guess we can only take change one step at a time. Does it make you feel better that I see bigger changes in our future? I do. I hope it comes soon. I hope we get there before I shrivel up and die.

  10. The Odd Duck
    November 8, 2008 at 12:00 PM

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

  11. Erika
    November 8, 2008 at 2:12 PM

    Thank you for directing me to this post. Your story is amazing and I'm grateful that you shared it to highlight the healthiness of same-sex parenting. Like you, I felt the swell of joy regarding Obama's win, followed by the crushing sadness & anger of Prop 8. I would love the opportunity to ask your pastor, and others like him, how exactly my relationship with my partner threatens his marriage. (And if he truly feels it does and their marriage is that precarious, I might recommend that he and his wife attend couples counseling!)

  12. January 23, 2009 at 4:14 AM

    I loved this post. I agree with you. I too am still on a high about Obama’s presidency, but disappointed about Prop 8.

    I found so much hypocrisy in church when I was a teenager, that I rejected religion completely. A perfect example is the Mormon’s donating money to make sure marriage remains between one man and one woman, yet that is the religion that condoned polygamy for generations.

    On these kinds of questions and issues, I always ask myself what is the humane thing to do, what is the path that will bring happiness/rights/benefits to people without hurting others? Gay marriage doesn’t affect my own marriage in the least, while it gives gays the same legal rights as my husband and I have. I think it will come, eventually, just as our country has gotten over racism enough to elect a black president. But it may be a long and hard-fought battle.

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