Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Families: Legitimate and Illegitimate

Vermont passes gay-marriage bill

BOSTON (Reuters) - Vermont lawmakers on Tuesday overrode a veto from the governor in passing a bill that would allow same-sex marriage, clearing the way for the state to become the fourth in the nation where gay marriage is legal.

The Vermont House of Representatives passed the bill by a 100-49 vote after it cleared the state Senate 23-5 earlier in the day. In Vermont, a bill needs two-thirds support in each chamber to override a veto.
Those of you who know me know that I don't cry often. I really don't. I find the act a distasteful lapse in self-control comparable to urinating on oneself. But I've been on the edge of it for over an hour now, since I heard about this.

Part of it is sadness at how far we've yet to go, but most of it is relief. State by state we're overriding people who think that same-sex marriage threatens their own, even if they can't explain why or how. State by state, victory and setback after victory and setback, we're making progress.

But why cry over it? Why get so emotional about something that doesn't really affect me?

That's what you think.

You see, I know a beautiful family. I've mentioned them before. Two brilliant, insightful, creative, stable, and loving women who are raising a son together. He's an amazing kid, creative and free to a degree that I was never allowed to be. They may not be perfect--no family is--but they're still the kind of family that I always wished I was secretly part of, that would realize someday that I didn't belong in that fearful and angry place, that I didn't belong where intelligence was something to be resentful of, that I didn't belong in a family where people intimidated each other and did violence to each other. I thought--like many kids in my position--that someday my real family would find me.

I didn't care whether that family had one mom or two, one dad or two. I just wanted somebody around who could look at me and know me for who I was, and still somehow love me. I just wanted somebody I could trust to be proud of me when I succeeded, and be there for me when I didn't. I wanted somebody I didn't have to be afraid of, or threatened by. I wanted what every lonely, angry little girl in my position wants. I wanted safety and love, and I didn't care who from, as long as it was real.

Four more states. Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Iowa. Four states are finally done telling my friends and their son that kids should grow up like I did and not like their son will, because their son won't have a "real" family (not a good, wholesome American one like mine, at least). Four states are done defining a real, government-sanctioned family as one with the right composition of sexes and not one with the right kind of love and unity.

Shows what the rest know. I may have had a "real" family, but I spent my whole childhood wishing I had anything else, anywhere else, with a group of people like my friends and their son. If they're not a family, what is? If their son isn't part of a family, then what the hell am I?

What's a family to you? Has anyone ever told you that you don't have one? That you shouldn't have one? Can you even imagine what that feels like? I don't know if I can, but the closer I get the more deeply it hurts. I don't want anyone to feel that.

So here's a hat tip to these four states. We're far from done, but a little hope goes a long way.

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