Californy

Note: This post was written on the plane headed out west. The visit was remarkable, and I have a very happy follow-up. However, given part of what transpired out there, I wanted to still post what I had originally written. Follow up tomorrow.

I’m on the plane, headed to what is technically my home town, and what never really feels like home, at least from a location standpoint. NYC somehow got encoded in my DNA. Ever since I was little, I wanted to get out of California. I’m looking forward to seeing my parents and 2 sisters, though one of the sisters is in terrible ongoing pain (3 years now), my dad’s health continues to decline, and, well, that’s hard.

One reason for my trip is to celebrate with my niece and her long-time girlfriend what was going to be a civil union ceremony and will now, with the passing of Prop 8, be…I’m not quite sure what. A protest, perhaps, a party, definitely, and a chance to see my nieces and my oldest sister, none of whom I get to see very often, given the various locations we all call home.

They are the only California-based family members who did not staunchly support Prop 8 – and that staunch support is all in the name of “what God wants.” I have never understood why so many Christians get so hung up on queers and pre-marital sex but don’t have any problem with war, the death penalty, greed, election tampering, or lying, particularly at the highest levels of government. Sure, Paul condemns homosexuality vociferously. He also says that women need to keep their heads covered and never speak in church, and that slaves should be good slaves. Jesus didn’t mention any of this stuff. Isn’t that who Christians are supposed to listen to? And meanwhile, why is everyone ignoring the glorious sentence written by Paul, “Bears all, believes all, hopes all, endures all: Love never fails.” If you truly follow the 13th chapter of Corinthians, how can you put your homophobia first?

Not long ago, my mother asked me what I based my life on. I think the answer was maybe expected to be “the holy scriptures,” or “my faith in God.” I had to think about it, because I wasn’t aware that I based on my life on anything. But I called her several hours later, and said, “Love. I base my life on love.”

She sounded taken aback. “What do you mean by that?”

“Love. My love for people, their love for me. My love for God, for life. Love. How can you can go wrong with that?”

She was quiet for a second, and then said, “That’s a good answer.”

(Mom is cool. We have massive disagreements on some things, but nothing’s off-limits. It’s nice to have a rare friendship with your own mother.)

Anyway, I have to say, all this True Definition of Marriage infuriates me. According to all the people who vote yes on 8, people with histories of abuse can get married and abuse again – as long they’re not the same sex. Drunks, criminals, creeps, assholes: go buy you all some rings! Don’t base anything on love and commitment, for God’s sake. That’s not what marriage is about! It’s about the hardware all fitting together properly, as the good Lord intended it.

When the spouse grew up, the one loving couple he knew was his uncle and his partner. Those two were a delight, and a wonderful pair – if ever there was a marriage made in heaven, they were it. And yet, they lived in a time when one could have been barred from visiting the other in the hospital because he wasn’t “family.” Just a few years ago, a friend lost his partner after years of battling AIDS – and had, despite heroic efforts on the dying partner’s part, a hell of a time holding onto the house that they had shared together and that had been left to him in the will.

If people want to be together, nothing can stop them. But in a world that’s damned hard to face alone, shouldn’t we be making it easy for people to join together?

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