Thursday, March 28, 2013


I am impotent. I sit here, reaping the benefits of my marriage to a wonderful man, drinking my coffee gone cold, scribbling notes of beauty and nothingness, knowing all the while that I, Alice, got to bind myself irrevocably to the person I love.

I've been mulling the past two days over, reading every snippet I could find and watching the sea of red and pink and love swell up over my friends and family on Facebook. I've been crying. I've been brought up and down by support and viciousness. I've scrolled through comments on CNN, on Yahoo, on Jezebel.

And I have felt useless. Mute. Shamed.

All of my words, my desire to write, have dried up and stretched out like parchment or tanned skin. I find I have nothing good to say, because my words are so powerless in the face of the bravery of men and women who are standing up and speaking out because they need to, because they must, because somehow the promises of the constitution are null and void when it comes to love. And I don't know how to place myself in that fight.

When I was a little girl I was fearless, defiant, stubborn, outspoken, fierce - until my teachers started to show us footage and poetry and songs of freedom, of civil rights. The echoes of Dr. Martin Luther King reverberated in my gut, and the faces demanding justice, civility, respect, made me hot, made me full of longing, made me proud. On those days I felt a burning in my chest; I was helpless, and I was wrought with something I had never felt before, some mixture of deep shame and of wildness. I cried, every time. I felt like throwing up.

That's what I've been doing, these past few days, and I've known that my life in a heterosexual union has been a life of privilege. No one is here to deny me the rights guaranteed by the founding documents of and inspirations for this, our great myth, our goal and our struggle, America. I have so many rights - over one thousand - that my marriage as a woman with a man affords. And I am so lucky.

It could have easily gone the other way; my only real relationship, other than that with G, was with a woman.

I would have been the same person. I would have been in love, committed, passionate, and above all, equal.

I am an American citizen, and a consensual contract of marriage should not change that. The rights I am supposed to have - the rights we are all supposed to champion and believe in - would be and should be immutable.

And I still feel that burning, longing, sobbing, near-vomiting, even from my place of heterosexual union, and I still hear the voice of Dr. King, and I remember the little girl who loved freedom but who realized, with fear, that she might not be like everyone else.

That's the thing, isn't it? Believing in equality while the world pushes back, says no, quotes antiquated texts, makes comparisons as ugly and disgusting as bestiality or incest, makes love into sin - that's why, that's the reason, that we as Americans need to believe in the true beauty of equal protection under the law.

Because no one should be treated as anything less than human.

Because little girls who cry, inexplicably, uncontrollably, in reaction to civil rights, should not see any part of themselves as other. As wrong. As frightening.

Because the constitution of the United States of America says that we are equal, already.

It's so easy to say that the Supreme Court should know this - and yes, they should. But what those nine women and men need to know, while studying and debating the law, is the truth of the matter. I understand that I am not knowledgable in how Supreme Court cases work - I, like most people, know mostly what online discourse and a high school education has taught me. My technical appreciation for the cases is limited.

I still think that there is a basic truth, though, which must be stated, must be upheld. It's the truth of Edie and Thea, Kristin and Sandra, Paul and Jeffrey, and countless others: it's the truth of the very real consequences of denying constitutional rights to people who dare to call themselves American citizens, equal under the law. It's the truth of their love - which might sound too vague or too emotional, but which is recognized and validated in heterosexual marriages without a second thought. It's the truth of how all of us should be treated, how all of our love and commitment stems from a fundamental need for companionship, for family, and for respect.

I keep thinking about that little girl, about all the children who might understand something about themselves which feels scary, which is publicly judged, which is militantly denied through religion or law. And I still feel powerless.

Maybe that will change.

We won't find out about the Supreme Court decisions until the summer. It's a terrible wait for a basic right. But maybe, oh, how I hope, there will be a girl or boy out there, years from now, who watches footage of Edith Windsor speak about her marriage and her rights, and who feels pride, and who doesn't need to cry.

Who is strong. Who is always equal. Who is fearless.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent. This should be a non-issue. It is a shame that it has to come before the Supreme Court to grant people equal protection and rights under the law. The opposition to so many of these issues uses the US Constitution and the Bible to back up their position. This country was not founded on the Bible, it was, in part, founded so people would have the freedom to worship as they believed ... or not. The US Constitution guarantees that right. This issue is about bigotry and fear. You have put it well. The greatest power we have is to be a living example of our own beliefs with a willingness to change when we learn a new or different perspective of an issue. Given that, we are never really powerless. We can change ourselves and be an example so others may learn and just possibly change.