Same-sex marriage. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Blood donation. Whenever I am confronted with yet another reminder that, as a gay man in the United States, I am, in fact, not treated as an equal member of society by my own government, I want to turn the page, flip the channel, turn off the radio, and bury my head in the sand.
I want to run away in my mind to a magical place—that idyllic American Shangri-La as taught to me by my fifth-grade social studies teacher. You know, the one where everyone is created equal, and everyone has the same rights as everyone else, so long as they don’t kill anyone or steal anyone’s stuff.
The older and more sober I get, however, the harder it is to escape. Instead, I continue to listen, watch, and read, despite the flood of emotions that begins to swirl in the pit of my stomach—a feeling akin to a sucker punch that, I imagine, is afforded only to those who’ve had the singular pleasure of being legislated against.
Such was the feeling a number of weeks ago when I heard for the first time that, despite their campaign pledges to the contrary, Republicans at the State Legislature had decided to push for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. This time, with a majority and very little to stop them, the possibility of their success was greater than ever before.
Wait a minute. I thought we were done with the statewide antigay-marriage-amendment, witch-burning hysteria of the last decade? Apparently not.
No, Minnesota Republicans have been out of power for so long, their legislative wish list seems to have quite the backlog. I mean backward log. I half-expect next month they’ll be announcing their opposition to the ERA.
To most of us, however, the announcement that the Legislature would actively pursue banning gay and lesbian people from having legally recognized relationships came as a bit of a shock.
Do we really have to deal with this crap again? It’s 2011! Legislating away people’s civil rights is the luxury of a bygone era—one where people, you know, had jobs, a couple extra bucks in their pocket, and untold hours to sit around having opinions about things that have very little, if anything, to do with them.
Ask your average person on the street today if he thinks a same-sex marriage ban is a priority, and I’m pretty sure you’ll get a resounding, “Um, no.”
No. This time people are too busy. Too busy surviving. Trying to find and keep a job. They want their government to do its things, like filling potholes and plugging oil leaks. They want schools that can teach their kids how to grow up and solve all the problems we haven’t been able to because we’re too goddamned busy wasting everyone’s time getting all riled up over a bunch of phony-baloney bogeymen.
Yet, here we are. And why? Because Republicans need a reason to get people to the polls in 2012. They know they can bait their base with a juicy piece of ideological red meat like same-sex marriage, and, voila!—instant turnout. As well, Democrats get another couple whacks at the big gay piñata for the campaign contributions they swear they’ll need to stop the Republican attack.
Where exactly does that leave us? Broke, disheartened, and still second-class citizens. Even if the amendment is defeated, we still have a state law preventing us from getting married—and a constitutional precedent.
The only response I’ve seen from our community, thus far, doesn’t leave me very hopeful either. Already, we’re trotting out the same tired old predictable arguments to try to sway public opinion:
• “God loves gays/God created gays.” He/She probably does/did, but good luck trying to prove that to people who also believe the Earth was created about 5,000 years ago.
• “It’s bad for business.” Outlawing prostitution and street drugs is also bad for the business of pimps and pushers, but I don’t see the Chamber of Commerce taking up their cause anytime soon.
No, the only real argument we need to make with our fellow Minnesotans is mind-numbingly simple, and one they’ll readily understand: It’s just wrong. Yep, wrong. Not right. Wrong. As in: Writing my inequality into the constitution is just plain wrong. You can’t do it. You won’t do it.
Why? Because, gays and lesbians, like you, are Americans first. And as such, we are entitled to get what we deserve—what is ours: the same rights and privileges under the constitution that you enjoy. You can try to keep them from us, but if you do, know that this is America. We get what we want.
If we need to, we will fly in a couple of Blackhawk helicopters, drop in a Navy SEAL team, and take what is ours. It’s not that hard.