It’s been four years since I woke up on the Wednesday after Election Day, 2008, to learn that California voters had approved a consitutional amendment to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. I remember how hollowed-out I felt on that day and the days that followed, and even now I still can’t believe it. When Dan and I got married, at the top of the grand staircase of San Francisco City Hall in August of that year, I remember how joyful I felt, and how lucky I felt to be living in a state that allowed such marriages. I thought of the generations of gay people who came before me — generations who probably would never dream of exchanging vows in public. And there I was, standing in the middle of City Hall, getting married to a dude! This was progress! Or so I’d thought.
So when the marriage ban passed, I wanted revenge. I wanted voters to overturn the law in 2010; I wanted them to do the same this year, in 2012. Four dreary years have passed in California with the stain of bigotry still blotting the constitution — I know the fight continues in the courts, but I’m tired of waiting for the judges. I want our rights back; I want them now.
This year, the signs look promising in other parts of the country. Will this be the year that voters approve statewide marriage equality? And, if so, which state will it be? Will it be Maine, where a recent poll shows that a vote to allow same-sex couples to be married enjoys a 13-point lead over opponents? Will it be Washington, where marriage-equality opponents have mounted a fierce propaganda campaign, prompting the Seattle Times to note in a recent editorial that the opposition’s “canned arguments against Referendum 74 have long passed their pull dates”? Will it be Maryland, where supporters of marriage equality are running neck-and-neck with opponents? I’d be ecstatic if we got all three, but even Maine and Washington would be good — equality marching in from both coasts. I’d also be happy if voters in Minnesota reject the gay-marriage ban currently on their ballot; gay rights supporters face a tough battle there.
Though I can’t vote for marriage equality in my own state this year, at least I’ll be voting for the presidential candidate who had the guts to speak out in favor of it in May: Barack Obama. I wish he’d been there to support us in 2008 when we needed him, but, hey, better late than never. (And his opponent? Please. He’s the guy who signed a pledge to support anti-marriage equality efforts. The guy who needs the votes of anti-gay bigots in order to get elected. You might want to consider that if you support both Mitt Romney and marriage equality.) I have to admit I have professional reasons as well as personal reasons to want gay people to have the choice to marry. It’ll open up so many possibilities for fiction. My favorite books — “Anna Karenina,” “The Scarlet Letter,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Custom of the Country” — have all revolved around marriages (and divorces). In fiction, the stakes seem always to go up that much higher when a marriage is involved. Is a gay “Custom of the Country” possible? Not while marriage is barred from us.
So vote, you good people of Maine and Washington and Maryland! I’ve got books to write! Besides, voting for marriage equality is the right thing to do. And if you’re considering voting against marriage equality even though “some of your best friends are gay,” please don’t kid yourself: a vote against marriage equality is discrimination, pure and simple. And don’t give me any horseshit about how domestic partnership is the same as marriage. I’ve been domestically partnered, and I’ve been married, and I know: domestic partnership isn’t marriage. Only marriage is marriage. And we all have the right to choose it.