By Rob Watson
Recently, a blog piece by Seth Adam Smith went viral around the turn of the phrase“Marriage isn’t for you.” It was a plea for self-lessness in marriage. “Marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.” Seth’s message was embraced by many and debated by others about how much self sacrifice is too much.
Of course, the sentimental humor of the piece was the double entendre of implying that some heterosexuals might not be fit for marriage, but in reality, pointing out for whom the marriage should benefit. It was clarification about one’s motivation to marry.
Unfortunately there is no double entendre being used this past week in Utah for same sex couples. Their motivations are being ignored and they are being told “Marriage isn’t for you”. This time, it was not about married people acting better, or even unmarried people considering whether they wanted marriage. This was stealing marriage from those who already had it. This was “de-marriage”. It not only was a declaration to de-marry loving couples, but also the children in their families.
Twelve-year-old Riley Hackford-Peer, made the effects of de-marriage particularly poignant when he spoke on the capital steps about his lesbian moms, “Some people do not believe I am from a loving family, they are WRONG… sometimes I felt really scared that my moms weren’t married. I imagined being taken away from one of my moms. At school we talked about things we hope to see in our lifetime. I said I hope to see my moms get married…in Utah. On December 20th, it happened, I saw my moms get married …IN UTAH. It felt like fireworks bursting in my heart. It was the second happiest day of my life. My first happiest day was on the day my little brother was born… but Governor Herbert wants to treat my moms unfairly. He says he wants to ‘protect families’. I want to tell him that my family deserves protection too.”
“No,” says the state of Utah to Riley Hackford-Peer, “marriage is not for you.”
Like the young Mr. Hackford-Peer, who does not deserve to be “de-married”, a state said something similar to my own sons once.
It was Valentine’s day 2004, and the mayor of San Francisco had declared that the city would start legally marrying same sex couples. I proposed to my partner, and the other father of my sons, that we go and marry. We knew the likelihood of our marriage being invalidated was high, but we went anyway. Like Seth Adam Smith’s dad said, we knew this marriage was for our kids, and they were worth risking any disappointment we might face. We hoisted the then two year olds on our shoulders and went.
It was unlike anything we had ever experienced. The line was around the full city block and we had arrived in the morning. We were interviewed by the local news crew (our interview opened the 6pm local news that night). We carried our sons up the steps, into the office for paperwork and then into the rotunda for an official to marry us.
Days later, injunctions came down, and those who were in line were told, “sorry, marriage is not for you”. I remember the pictures of anguish of the people who were fully expecting to marry that day. The woman who had been next in line with her partner, who had been jubilant moments before, was instantly hysterical with grief. The pictures told the story of new kind of disappointment I had never seen before. It was a mix of humiliation and helpless anguish. “You are not OK being who you are. Marriage is not for you. “
Soon other rulings came down from the court and our precious marriage license that seemed to glow with a tint of a miracle turned back into a worthless piece of paper. Even though we had every reason to expect it, the hurt was palatable. My sons, still too young to know what was going on were told…“Marriage is not for you. You are de-married.”
The Utah cases are different. While we married under the auspices of a renegade mayor playing out his own version of civil disobedience, the couples in Utah were not. They were married with the full assurances of both the court system and the state.
They were given the full “green light” to allow all their family hopes, dreams and aspirations to come out and be realized. That is no small feat. The Massachusetts Supreme Court observed that marriage is one of the single most important acts of self-definition. These couples did not take their steps lightly, and these were not rash, impulsive decisions. They have been in wait, in hope, and probably prayer that someday they would meet fruition.
That day came. They got excited. They got their kids excited.
Now the state wants to say, “You are de-married. Put your heart away, pack away your soul. Uncry your tears of joy, return your smiles to moth balls. We are rewinding the most important acts of your lives. Marriage is not for you.”
No. This is not acceptable. In the history of unacceptable things, this is at the top. Our legal system and American ideals are founded on a core ideal that we do what we committed to do. Utah committed to these couples and they owe the recognition to them.
Marriage IS for them as much, if not more, than anyone. They were told they could. They went through the personal life changing process to do it, and they have earned the right to have it. The recognition of their families cannot be unborn.
If the governor and his administration continue to renege on marriage for these couples, they should be sued for everything they are worth. They owe over 1300 couples for the pain and disappointment they will have caused them. I will never forget that profound wash of discouragement on the day we heard about our marriage. That memory never goes away. These couples should be compensated for the harm they have endured.
Heterosexuals in the blogsphere swarmed to an idea that marriage means being unselfish. They embraced the concept that marriage is for the love, honor and cherishing of one’s spouse and the deep commitment to the well being of one’s current and future children. This is exactly what the married same sex couples in the state of Utah have signed up for, and yes, marriage is and should be for them. They are exactly the ones who deserve it. They personify all the good values for which marriage stands.
Governor, marriage should not be, it cannot be, YOURS to withhold. Give it back now. Do not make “de-marriage” a real thing.
By: Carol Rood
Valentine’s Day. My Lovely Bluebell and I are about to celebrate an anniversary in April, and in all the years we have been together, we have never celebrated Valentine’s Day.
You know, now that I think about it, that is actually not accurate. We did celebrate Valentine’s Day once. Just once. I got my Lovely Bluebell some flowers and a stuffed animal, and she got me……nothing. So I made sure she knew she had forgotten to get me something, and then she went out and bought me a stuffed animal and some chocolates. Me being the sweet, forgiving person that I am, I gave them right back to her. Of course she was across the room when I gave them (read: threw them) back to her. The way I look at it, you can’t go get me something AFTER I remind you it is Valentine’s Day and that you forgot. At that point the gesture is meaningless.
So after that incident, we just didn’t participate in the day. Sometimes we would get each other cards, but that was the extent. No gifts, no dates, nothing. It wasn’t really discussed, I guess we just decided without needing to talk about it.
So you can imagine my Lovely Bluebell’s surprise when I turned to her last week and said, “Hey, do you want to go to dinner next week for Valentine’s Day?” She looked a bit shocked and said, “Do you want to?” My response: “Sure, I guess.”
I have to admit I don’t think it was really about Valentine’s Day, but more about the fact that we had not had a date night in a while and as the parents of three teenaged boys, we NEED date nights. I suppose I was just thinking Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to go out to dinner.
After that conversation I put it out of my mind, but apparently I was the only one who did that. Poor Lovely Bluebell must have been worried (she was probably having flashbacks), because within a couple of days I was told I needed to cancel Joe Cool’s guitar lesson so we wouldn’t be late for our dinner reservation.
I had forgotten about THE Valentine’s Day disaster of many years ago. I must have triggered some latent guilt trip, because dinner reservations were made lickety split! It is surprising to me because usually I am the social planner. Lovely Bluebell didn’t waste any time making reservations. AND she made them at our favorite Indian restaurant!
So ladies and gentlemen, I guess the lesson learned here is never underestimate the power of a tossed teddy bear. It can do wonders for date nights for years to come.
By: Tanya Ward Goodman
For Valentine’s Day this year, my husband proposed that we have a romantic dinner after the kids went to bed and the first thing that went through my head was “You mean I have to cook two dinners?”
His light seemed dimmed, but not entirely diminished and so I tried to push away my pragmatic thoughts and think about the possibility of staying awake past eight o’clock.
It’s true. It’s all terribly true.
Our romance is not dead, just sleepy.
My husband seasoned steaks. I let the wine breathe while the kids brushed their teeth. Though I’d served my daughter her favorite meal of chicken and artichokes, she was disturbed to find that we would dine without her.
“Aren’t I your Valentine?” she demanded.
“I love you,” I said. “But I’m married to your dad.”
“It’s unfair,” she said.
“It’s what it is,” I said.
“I love you and goodnight,” my husband said.
My son was too grossed out by the thought that his parents might kiss to even bother getting out of bed.
“Goodnight,” he shouted from his room.
“Goodnight,” my daughter whimpered.
But soon she was asleep.
We lowered the lights and switched on a little Ella Fitzgerald. The steaks made a glorious sizzle and we exchanged the news of the day without interruption. It was really, really nice.
We were not co-parents or co-signers or co-workers (though we are often all three), we were just two people in love.
I am in love with my husband and I love my kids. The love is strong on both counts, but it is good to be reminded of the difference.
By: Ann Brown
Valentine’s Day. It’s all over but for the wilted roses, the candy wrappers and the pundits.
My friend Andrea pretty much summed up how I feel about the whole thing. She said,”All that perfunctory love. It’s creepy.”
This is why I am friends with Andrea. Well, this, and the fact that our friendship is based on the commitment ceremony we had that went something like this:
Me: (in an email to Andrea) I like you. Let’s be friends.
Andrea: Okay, I like you, too. You are smart and funny.
Me: You are smart and funny, too, and talented.
(Awkward pause, where I notice that she did not say I am talented, too)
Me: So, we’re friends now, right?
Me: I never want to have to actually see you in person.
Andrea: Cool. And we never have to speak on the phone.
Andrea: And we will never, ever say to each other, “let’s get together”, even just to be polite.
Andrea: Only emails.
Me: Only emails.
(another awkward pause)
Me: Um, ‘k….so….bye.
Andrea: (message on my screen: “Andrea is now offline”)
We are going on eight years together.
I am the type who turns off the porch light and hides behind the couch when I see a car coming up my driveway. Andrea is the type who built a house that is very, very difficult to find and has no guest room. This portends a long friendship.
And there are others like us out there. Just run over and ask my friend Amy. Oh wait, you can’t; she won’t answer her doorbell. I love Amy. Ironically, Amy and Andrea once met in person. At my 50th birthday party. No surprise that they immediately liked each other. I wonder if they are email friends…I wonder if….huh, I wonder if they make coffee dates with each other and invite each other over for dinner parties and shop for bras together and…..and if they talk about me. And do they laugh merrily at how they have bamboozled me into thinking that they are not social, but it’s really that they don’t want to socialize with ME?
You know what, fuck Andrea and Amy.
(Andrea’s crafts website: www.onblueberryhill.com)
I have a salon, of sorts. My friends Claudia, Claire, Jane and I meet on Facebook every day or so to figure out the world. (I know I should put the word “meet” in quotes but it looks so weenie, so un-hip, as if having an “online” salon is still a novelty to me, or like the way my mom says, “bra” because, as a teenager, I told her to stop saying the weeniest of words - “brassiere” – but now she says “braaa” as if she is saying only half a word and it sounds even worse.)
I know Claire, but I haven’t seen her in almost sixteen years. I met Claudia and Jane on Claire’s Facebook wall and although Jane has posited that perhaps Claudia is really a twelve year old boy masquerading as a middle-aged woman just to get in on our conversations, Claire has verified that she is, indeed, a bona fide middle aged woman. Anyway, if a twelve-year old boy wants to continue the ruse just to read our musings about menopause and SADD and raising children and shit, well, the more power to him. He will make a great husband some day if he pays attention to what we are saying about ours. Especially to the discussions about the transparency of “honey, why don’t I just give you a back rub” when what they really mean is, “honey, why don’t you just give me a blowjob.” Are you listening, “Claudia”?
(Claire’s website: www.clairelazebnik.com)
I also have an in-person salon, a once a month lunch salon with my friends Jeannette and Michelle. I know this flies in the face of my “don’t ask, don’t get together” policy but Michelle doesn’t really like email and Jeanette has healthy social impulses so she insists we actually get together. She also actually reads the menu at the restaurant (we always go to the same Thai restaurant, except for a few weeks during the beginning of the Iraq war when we went to an Iraqi restaurant because we worried the owner would be boycotted and go out of business. Which he did, but it might have been because after every time we ate there we got really sick and she orders a different item each time, based entirely – get this – on what she feels like eating that day, not based on habit or fear of change. I run with the wild pack, baby.
(Jeannette’s website: oh wait, she didn’t want me to shamelessly plug her website. But she is an amazing artist and I am going to do it one of these days. Not that Claire and Andrea WANTED me to shamelessly plug their websites. I just didn’t bother to wait for their responses when I asked if I could)
Now the two Adams in my life are a different story. They have both graciously conceded that I will never pick up the phone when they call nor will I show up at a gathering – chivalrous gentlemen that they are – but as far as I am concerned they owe me because they are the ones who talked me into letting my kid go three thousand miles away from home to college and as a result, I kinda had a little empty nest freakout and took to my bed for a while, catching up on my stories and my Xanax popping but missing out on a bunch of department store sales and, well, basically, Autumn of 2005.
(Adam Klugman fan page on Facebook)
And Robin. When his co-workers and friends suggest dinner dates with us or getting together for a drink, Robin has taken to saying simply, “my wife doesn’t go out.” I like the sound of that. It’s kinda scary, like he has me chained up in the guest bathroom or perhaps I have two hideous heads or something.
Oh shit. Hold on, someone’s at the door. Turn off the lights.
Get down. Be very quiet.