Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Gay Marriage Controversy

Thousands of people packed Civic Center Plaza on Saturday morning as part of a nationwide protest against the recent outcome of Proposition 8, which amends the California state constitution so that marriage will only be a right for a "single man and woman."

Rather like k.d. lang just stated in an interview, I've never longed for a "gay marriage" because I've always enjoyed the more countercultural aspects of the gay subculture and never really wanted to get married or join the military, but for many people both activities fulfill a serious longing.

This was brought home in a recent visit to Palm Springs where most of the population, both straight and gay, are elderly. These are the years where Social Security survivor's benefits and the inheritance of property are basic issues that most heterosexual couples take for granted, while their gay counterparts have to go through torturous legal hurdles to make sure that their partner inherits anything.

I had a friend I played tennis and golf with for a short while in the 1980s named Jim Anderson. During that period, he lost his lover of 25 years to a heart attack. The two of them had worked side by side creating a small real estate empire along with the ownership of a great, eccentric bar for older gay gentlemen on upper Polk Street called "The White Swallow."

Jim's lover was a much older man who had been married with children earlier in his life, and the surviving children, who lived in San Francisco, sued the estate which had been left to Jim. Though they had placed every legal protection possible on their shared assets, Jim's lawyer was bad, the children were old San Francisco, and so was the judge. They legally stripped Jim of everything.

It took a couple of years for the family to actually take everything, and Jim slowly went mad with sadness and bitterness. When they took his last place to live, a condo in Palm Springs, he shot himself through the head.

The protest Saturday morning was charming because of the exquisite warm weather and because the sound system with the boring speeches couldn't be heard in the back of the plaza next to the children's playgrounds, where somebody had set up a boombox instead.

The fact that openly gay people have children, either adopted or created by one of their parents, is another reality that's not being even remotely addressed by the religious bigots and their absurd constitutional amendment.

Plus, gender is becoming fluid in ways that are absolutely mindbending. Take Morgan, on the left above, who was a male New Jersey ironworker five years ago and who is now a legal female trying to start a career as a comedian in San Francisco with her lesbian lover, pictured above right. (Click here for Morgan's website.) Morgan is still married to her heterosexual female wife, who lives in their New Jersey home, and they have stayed close friends, while Morgan lives with her new partner as a lesbian. "I've always loved women, I was just in the wrong body," is how she puts it. How the hell does one legislate that kind of complexity? By keeping it simple and equal.


momo said...

What a terrible story! I have an uncle who was the long-time companion of a very wealthy woman. I no longer remember why they hadn't married, but when she had a stroke, her children, from whom she had been estranged, put him out on the street, took charge of her health and estate, and prevented him from seeing her. Not only did it break his heart, it left him virtually homeless. He was also frantic because he thought they were not taking good care of her. I can't fathom the cruelty.

Matthew Hubbard said...

The Bible is clear about how it feels about the dietary laws, but we don't outlaw the selling of pork or shellfish or anything else which breaks Kosher law.

The Bible has a lot of anti-drinking passages (and some pro-drinking passages), but we tried outlawing alcohol and that didn't work out very well.

Why people can let each other alone when consenting adults are involved is still a mystery to me, and I should be old enough by now not to be mystified.

So much of this isn't about the sexual act at all, but the legal rights of people who have committed themselves to each other. The stories you told are heartbreaking and informative, Mike. Thanks for posting this.

Delphine said...

"a single woman and a single man"
In the bible divorce is not accepted. Which makes me the next in line for unconstitutional wedding as a divorced woman. Not completely single you see?...When people vote against other people basic rights, they should think that they could be the next one in line.
I wonder how legal it is to put to vote the rights of a minority?