The following is from Gail Shepherd, NT's food writer, on the passage of Amendment 2, which she calls mean-spirited and wicked. I'll add strategic. As West Palm Beach activist-attorney Rand Hoch told me this morning, the anti-gay amendment was added in part to bring conservatives out to the polls (it worked in 2004) to win the presidency. In that, they obviously failed.
Proposition 2, known as the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, was passed last night by a vote of 62 percent. I’d expected to wake up glowing from Obama’s acceptance speech, but instead I’ve been in a foul funk. As a gay woman living with my partner of eight years, I’ve been so battered by the tug of war over gay marriage (40 states have anti-gay marriage laws and twenty six states have, one by one, passed constitutional “marriage equals one man one woman” amendments), that I’m way beyond the point where I give two shits if I can marry my partner -- I’d be thrilled to settle for some basic human considerations, for the tattiest safety net, for the merest hint of financial and emotional security. But it doesn’t look like I’m going to see even that.
The rationale for amendments like Prop 2 are so ludicrous they’re almost surreal: the chief argument of supporters is that these amendments will protect school children from forced indoctrination into the “gay lifestyle.” But in truth, they’ve been used in state after state to strip away civil liberties, to challenge existing domestic partner ordinances and laws. Like, for example, the Domestic Partner registry we have in West Palm Beach. This registry gives me the right to visit my partner in the hospital and to make health care decisions for her if she’s incapacitated, and it gives me the right to bury her if she dies. It doesn’t even begin to touch on communal property or inheritance; it doesn’t mean she’ll receive my social security if anything happens to me or that she’ll inherit the house we live in. Insuring that our property is safely shared requires another slew of complicated legal documents. After eight years of living together we have pooled our financial resources, we talk about our future in terms of decades, we save for retirement, but we have yet to entirely work our way through the legal morass that will ensure that we’re protected in the event of emergency, catastrophe, or death – protected as any straight couple would be by simply signing a dotted line at City Hall. The passage of Prop 2 opens the very real possibility that the meager legal protections we’ve managed to cobble together over the years are now more vulnerable than ever.
And even this uncertainty I could live with, but what worries me is how bitter I’ve gotten. I think of the weddings I’ve attended, the straight friends and family I’ve raised a toast for, and I can barely utter the word “marriage” without tasting bile. The bridal registries I’ve pored through looking for the perfect shower or wedding present, the endless discussions about cut and color of bridesmaid’s dresses, the opinions about honeymoon locations, the drama and gossip and bickering, the bachelor parties. Yesterday morning I woke up and thought about all the cheap champagne I’ve drunk and crappy chicken breasts I’ve choked down and decided I'd had enough. So help me as long as gay marriage is illegal, as long as amendments like Proposition 2 keep getting passed in state after state, I will never attend another wedding – not if it’s my sister or cousin or niece or best friend. And you know what else, my straight pals? I’m not sure I’m even going to recognize your marriage, which from my vantage point in the clear light of today looks very much like a thoroughly corrupt institution, one that hoards and parcels out the rights of some at the sickening expense of others – as if the right to inherit your partner’s retirement fund or visit the love of your life in the intensive care ward were so rare, so precious, a commodity, that there just isn’t quite enough of it to go around.
These amendments are mean-spirited; they are wicked. And until every one of them is finally struck down, please, save that expensive engraved invitation for someone who cares. Don’t ask me to dance at your wedding.