Monday, July 1, 2013

Prop. 8, DOMA and Me

Last week was a monumentous week for LGBT rights.

I mean monumental. Huge, bigger than huge!

After I forget how many years, the Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS, ruled on two separate issues regarding marriage equality: the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the US Federal Government from recognizing same-sex couples thereby denying them benefits heterosexual couples receive automatically upon marriage; and Proposition 8 which, in California, defined marriage as between one man and one woman. In a nutshell SCOTUS struck them both down which meant we were equal. We were first class citizens in the eyes of the law. Effects were immediate. Within an hour of the decision, a Federal judge halted the deportation of the legally married-but-only-in-their-home-state non-US-citizen husband of a gay US citizen, just hours before he was to board the plane.

Also, marriage equality returned to California after five years making it the newest state in the Union to recognize same-sex couples. In a surprise, but welcomed move, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay that prohibited same-sex marriages from happening while the case wound its way through the court system. Normally the Appeals Court waits twenty-five days for the SCOTUS decision to become final. They did not. They waited two.

Rallies were planned for all over the state regardless of the outcomes. With the decisions expected anywhere from Monday June 24 on, the rally dates kept changing. When they finally were announced on Wednesday, June 26, two days before Stonewall Day, social media exploded.

I was nervous anticipating the results. Having been same-sex married, and now same-sex divorced, I wanted equality for my brothers and sisters. I wanted to be seen as equal as my straight counterparts. Should I ever decide to marry again, I wanted those same tax benefits, and all the other 1100+ rights that come along specifically with the "M" word. I didn't want to be part of, in the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "a skim milk marriage." I wanted a real one. With all the fat.

For Possible Decision Day No. 1, I got up, tuned into a live feed from the Supreme Court and read the feed. Nothing. I did the same thing for Possible Decision Day No. 2, and nothing again. But, the feed said all remaining decisions would be announced on Definite Decision Day No. 3. And when the decisions were finally announced, I felt nothing. I did not cry with joy,  I did not scream with happiness, I did nothing. Oh, I messaged a friend the news, tweeted a couple of things and went on with my day.

Okay, I did react. Yes, I was happy to finally be equal, but I did not feel happy.

My friend said I should go to the rally in West Hollywood. He said I should go celebrate. No, he thought I needed to celebrate. I told him I'd think about it.

In the end, I stayed home and dusted.

I was still recovering from a bad week with my ex over the unexpected passing of our my dog. Yes, technically he was our dog; we got him, we trained him, we loved him. However, my ex left him. My ex is now moving across the country with his new boyfriend and had already said his goodbyes to Mufasa. I feel that makes Mufasa now mine. I nursed him out of his depression after my ex left, I took him to the vet when he was ill, I fed him and gave him his medications, I finally got him partially housebroken and cleaned up after him when he forgot. I was the one who watched him take his last breath, I was the one who surrendered him to be cremated, I was the one who collected the remains. Even though he'd already said his goodbyes, I kept my ex in the loop that last week. I kept him abreast of the prognosis and the doctor's reports. When I told my ex that Mufasa had ultimately died, he expressed condolences for our loss. And then he made it very clear he was not going to help with any addtional money beyond his usual support. From there the discussion deteriorated.

Perhaps the SCOTUS decisions were all too soon. Maybe the coincidence of  it all happening at once was overwhelming. The tragedy of unexpectedly losing my sweet Mufasa, the argument with the ex and my reactions to and thoughts of it all so fresh in my heart and mind that I could not appreciate and internalize the magnitude of the SCOTUS decisions that granted us equality. I just don't feel it. Maybe, I'm just soured on the idea of relationships at the moment to take it all in.

And yet, I appreciate the fact that history was made this week.

We are EQUAL at last.

At least in some states and in the eyes of the Federal Government.

And, it's only just beginning!

And in time, I'll come to internalize it.

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