my Freedom To Marry Day vows
Last Thursday our LGBTA hosted its annual Freedom To Marry Day ceremonies. Based on CT articles from previous years (some irretrievable), i was expecting the yet-lower-still turnout, which if not for my own outreach and one or two others’ would have consisted entirely of LGBTA members. I also should have suspected limited CT exposure; this year we (i use the term loosely, this being my first year of active involvement in the LGBTA) merited not an article but a photo gallery. This in itself is still to be commended, but for one detail that got lost: This year we vowed to support marriage equality “regardless of individuals’ gender or sexual orientation”, or of the number of individuals involved.
Yep, that’s me second from the right. My fiancees / spice (can’t resist) were David (right), Mugdha (reciting), and Sarah Mac (left). In addition to a gay male couple, a lesbian couple, and a straight couple, we four represented the polyamorous community in a faux group marriage, faux-officiated by our serendipitously discovered clerical support the Reverend Joe Cobb (far left . . . indeed) of the Metropolitan Community Church in Roanoke. Before anything else, it’s for Eli’s swift support and Scott’s contacts that our contingent even had a place in the event.
Now, self-promotion aside, part of me was giddy about starting up some conversation in town and seeing what the campus reaction would be, at least via mention of us in the paper. The larger part of me, though, hoped not to take any significant share of the spotlight away from the same-sex couples who are currently so close to achieving equal access to marriage in these United States. On the American political scene this is the attitude i think best taken for the time being.
On the local social scene, though, i’m disappointed to have missed an opportunity to jostle the discourse. At Jess’s and my presentation P is for Poly, even several members of the LGBTA expressed skepticism and reservations, and the opportunity to respond to an irate opinion piece about the ceremonies would’ve been too perfect. That’s what it is for an idea to be too perfect.
Both my hope and my honest interpretation is that Freedom To Marry Day, at least at Virginia Tech, has garnered gradually dwindling attendance due to the increased expectation that equal access to marriage, at least to couples, is inevitable and at most a few election cycles away. I find it sensible to assert that the issue itself only lasted as long as the GOP could milk the paranoia of the religious and ignorant who comprise a solid component of their base; once public opinion took its turn, as it has, the party was destined to abandon the issue (though they may take a while, chalking up whatever collateral damage they can along the way). In the meantime, the non-heterosexual contingent has more pressing problems to contend with than a cause awaiting only demographic turnover to resolve.
The communities (or identities) seem starkly different in this respect, by the way: From my vantage point, polyamorists appear less reviled than non-heterosexuals by social conservatives, though plausibly because we’re not taken seriously; in contrast, we seem less welcomed by social progressives, if only for the same unknowns (“Is it natural?”, “Is it safe?”, “What about the children?”, etc.) that made similar progressives wary of advocating gay rights in decades past. (My vantage point is academic, though; i don’t know what Joe the Plumber thinks about group marriage, though i’d love to find out.)
Still, i took some time to come up with what i think were some decent “vows”. I borrowed elements and channeled passion from online forums and podcasts, but the outcome, framed as a sequence of questions as to the options i’ll have available, is something that i could assert for myself. For the record, here they are. (My faux-spice and co-faux-newlyweds are invited to include their own if they wish.)
May i pursue affection, sex, and love openly and honestly without fear of legal reprisal?
May i expect to have my family of choice legitimized by the same benefits conferred to female-male couples?
May i rely upon the state to recognize my family in matters of sickness and health, that we may insure ourselves and attend to each other unobstructed?
May i have the welfare of my children merited by the love, care, and consistency of their home?
May i trust that, in my death, my family will receive their inheritance without the compounded grief of a legal battle?
May i be not labeled adulterer, cohabitant, friend, or third party to those who know me as spouse?
It is with a reverence for love, sex, and family that i vow to defend for all mutually beloved an equal right to betrothal.
Yes, i’ve been told that i take myself too seriously.