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This past Friday was an exciting day. My Facebook timeline exploded in rainbows. Sunday we attended the Seattle Pride parade, which was as exuberant and celebratory as you would expect.

But the celebration is of course tempered because I know there are people who are angry and upset, people who are somehow convinced that something has been taken away from them. I do find this baffling. Are marriage licenses a finite resource? Can only so many be printed a year, so now straight couples will be turned away by the county clerk? Will they run out of paper and ink?

How can allowing more people to marry possibly take anything away from anyone?

I don’t really want to rehash all the arguments again. I’m tired of reminding people that there is a distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage. I’m tired of pointing out that your church may enforce any rules or requirements it wishes on those it will marry, but it cannot and should not insist that the state enforce those rules when issuing civil marriage licenses to people who are not members of your church. Or noting that there are millions of heterosexual couples that don’t meet your church’s standard for marriage and yet are still legitimately, legally married, and somehow this never seems to bother you the way gay couples do (previously divorced couples, couples with no children, mixed faith couples, atheist couples. Heck, even mixed race couples probably violate some religions, sadly).

And I’m tired of the strange idea that somehow your religious freedom is abridged by my mere existence, that I am supposed to hide my life out of sight so that you can be comfortable.

The hell with that. I live my life like every other human. I will not pretend to be something I am not.

I keep hearing about people of “good will” who oppose same sex marriage due to their “deeply held beliefs.” And to those people, I have a few questions.

Back in December of 2013, Renee was diagnosed with what turned out to be a benign brain tumor, about an inch in diameter. It had grown slowly, probably for at least half a decade, but had finally reached a size that it caused symptoms that sent us to the ER on an otherwise normal Tuesday morning in December. Then an appointment with her primary care doctor. Then the appointment with the neurosurgeon. Then brain surgery. Try, for just a moment, to imagine the fear and anxiety around someone cutting into a loved one’s skull.

In the days leading up to that surgery, we did what we could to ensure that there would be no legal issues with the hospital. Made sure they had copies of our paperwork giving me the right to make medical decisions if she could not. Filed paperwork with the county to ensure that, should the worst happen, ownership of our house would pass directly to me. Pesky legal things that were a hassle to do and added plenty of anxiety to an already anxious time. Pesky things that perhaps would not be necessary if we were legally married. Thank goodness we had already created wills – we would not have had time to do that in those few days before surgery.

How would you, and your “deeply held beliefs” have been harmed if we had not needed to leap through all those legal hoops? How would it have changed your life? Would you have even noticed?

In the days after the surgery, I slept on a cot in Renee’s hospital room every night until she was released, and our amazing friends rallied around to help out. I don’t know or care what the nurses and aides might have thought – did my presence and my obvious love for my partner harm them in any way? How were they harmed? How would it have benefited their faith if I had been barred from the hospital room?

How do you benefit by making my life even more difficult and stressful during an already difficult time?

Renee and I got legally married nearly a year ago, in Spokane, WA since we still lived in Montana where it wasn’t quite legal yet. It made life easier while selling our houses and buying our new home. We probably saved a little money in taxes. And again I ask, how were you harmed? How did our real estate transactions violate your deeply held beliefs? Was the tax advisor at H&R Block who helped us file our joint tax return harmed in some way? (she probably made a good chunk of money from it, given the complexity of our taxes this year).

If you truly are a person of “good will” and you have no animosity towards me, and yet you want to make my life more difficult in these ways…well, I think I may question just how much good will you really have. Remembering again here, I am only talking about what the government recognizes, not your church.

Of course, marriage is much more than a collection of legal benefits like hospital visitation. taxes, and inheritance. Those are merely the most practical, obvious benefits that flow from legal recognition. If we are talking about the spiritual and emotional aspects of marriage, well, we’ve been married since 2012, when we held a ceremony while camping in Utah with our close friends.

On that day, we took vows promising to love and care for one another.

How did those vows harm you? How did those promises take away your freedom? You are free to believe that those promises are meaningless according to the rules of your church, of course.

If you can’t articulate a concrete way the events I’ve just described harmed you, then how does this recent supreme court ruling harm you?

Joy

Legal at last -- July 2014

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