Thursday, March 28, 2013

Skim-Milk Marriage

Thank you Justice Ginsburg for finding a food analogy for marriage. The past two days of Supreme Court hearings related to the issues of same-sex marriage have put my brain and emotions on overcharge, analyzing with the pundits, unraveling the transcripts, trying to figure out what the words and sentiments mean, staring into my own obscured crystal ball, attempting to read the future.

I live in a state that passed an amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman. And while this state recently approved a civil union measure, I am left, as Ginsburg puts it, with not quite the real deal. While many friends celebrated the passage of civil unions, I found myself less than enthusiastic over it. Perhaps it was a year hangover from last year's Colorado legislature session, feeling the level of hate and obstruction that too often characterizes those opposed to sanctioning equal marriage for all. When the civil union measure just recently passed, I smiled relief, but wasn't entirely happy. Several times I've been asked whether Nan and I will civil union. The answer is maybe.

To engage in a civil union means to accept something less than what others have if they desire to publicly claim their union (marriage). And while civil unions accord a slew of rights all protected by a fee and signature, Nan and I already have piled high boxes of paperwork that we paid for years ago in the form of a trust to protect us and give us most of those rights.

When I move to the question of marriage--would I get married--the answer is maybe, probably, I hope. It all really boils down to that public expression of love. Yes, I want equal rights and the same opportunities as married couples, but what I want more is that public acknowledgement that sanctions my union, my love. I want my partnership to be celebrated rather than looked at as somehow not worthy of others. I didn't think I wanted marriage until I listened to Edie Windsor capture the sentiment of marriage best in this short video about her and Thea.

Over the past two days, watching the tweets and blogs roll in as the Supreme Court hearings finished, I found myself caught up in the hope of just decisions regarding the cases. On Facebook, people turned their profiles to the HRC equal symbol on a background of red. While some people chastised folks for simply changing their profile picture rather than doing real action such as contacting legislatures, I found the whole visual display uplifting. When I went to my page the other afternoon and saw a sea of red, I teared up because of the visible support, a moment when I did not feel marginalized and less than.

Honestly, the thing that I want most, and the thing that I don't expect to get, is for the Court to render a judgment that makes a sweeping gesture declaring that any law, any statute, any piece of legislation that places homosexuals in a lesser than category, unequal to heterosexuals, is unconstitutional and cannot be upheld. I would like to see a just declaration that reminds citizens that we are all created equal, and with that, we are all entitled to the same common good, benefits, liberties.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Sometimes life says you just have to change up the tradition a bit.

Most Passovers, I attend a seder, sitting around a table with a group of people, overstuffing on various courses, drinking wine, singing the traditions of the seder hosts. I like the ritual, the boisterous quality of lots of talk and joyous song, the memories of childhood and Passovers past. I also cannot resist a holiday that a former partner's son nicknamed The Reading Holiday--people sitting around a table reading from a shared book that tells the story of Passover.

As a child, we would have Passover seders with extended family, scrunched into tiny Brooklyn apartments, racing around the small rooms searching for the Afikoman, often hidden in between couch cushions or inside a piano bench. The seders would last an eternity, especially the second half, post dinner, which seemed extremely unnecessary except for opening the door for Elijah, drinking more wine, and singing songs.

When I moved out to Denver, miles too far to travel for a family seder, I attended friends' seders, adopting their traditions, their song renditions, their rhythm of the holiday. Tonight, though, Passover needed to change up a bit. After several weeks of exhausting travel to conferences, followed by a trip back east to a funeral that included lots of hours in the air, airports, and on the road driving, I couldn't muster the energy to attend a seder filled with people.

But, I didn't want to go through the evening without a sense of the holiday. I wanted some type of celebration, even if it was of my own rendition. I didn't really care about reading the story, singing songs, or even all the traditional dishes (that would have taken too much preparation). Instead, I wanted the house to smell of food. So, I lit a candle, set a table with placemats, and Nan and I dined on gefilte fish with horseradish, a lemon-garlic roast chicken, asparagus, and matzo with butter (a childhood treat). With the counters in chaos, the pets prowling about, Nan and I dined happily, in pajamas, at home.