… and why even (or especially) flat-earth fundamentalists should not be threatened by it
On January 13, 2012, on the 23rd anniversary of our first date—which was also a Friday the 13th—Bob and I got married in New York City. This union has little legal significance: Minnesota does not recognize it, and if some folks have their way, by year-end there will be a state constitutional amendment preventing its recognition. A few states and countries will honor our decision to claim responsibility for each other, but not our home state, where we spend most of our time.
Our relationship did not require formalization. We have been together for 23 years, with nothing—not legal red tape nor children nor anything but love—to bind us. But we thought it was a good time and a good opportunity to reassert our commitment to each other and to our family and community—a commitment to care for each other.
You should not be threatened by this decision—even if you believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. This is true first because our choice to call ourselves “married” does no harm to you or your choices, and in fact benefits you; second, you should support our freedom to order our personal affairs as we see fit, since you likely want that freedom, too.
To the extent that our marriage in NYC is not recognized in Minnesota, it has no effect on you. Ignore it. To the extent that our marriage is recognized anywhere, it is a symbol of our commitment to care for each other. That’s already happened numerous times in the last 23 years—many times that only Bob and I know about. This commitment to help and support each other makes it less likely that either of us will use your tax dollars or charitable contributions, no matter what misfortunes might befall us. Before we look to anyone else for help, we look to each other. Why would you deny us that?
More importantly, you should want to protect the liberty to order personal affairs as you see fit. I believe that every adult should enjoy individual liberty to the maximum extent possible without government interference. There must be limits, of course. If something I do harms you, the government may intervene to prevent it or punish it. But you should have to prove that what I want to do harms you before you seek government injunction against it. As you know, there is no evidence that gay marriages in places like New England or elsewhere have had any negative effect [updated 1/27] on hetero marriage. So what’s your worry?
I believe the government should not interfere in personal relationships by nudging some consenting adults into one kind of relationship while denying it to others. There are hundreds of little legal benefits accorded to straight married couples that are denied to gay married couples. Does that prove straight marriage is better, or just that government intervention is necessary to prop it up? I don’t know, but if we remove those little preferences, maybe we will see.
In return for your support of my right to order my personal life as I see fit, I propose to support your rights to do the same. For example, if you are a pastor, photographer, church, or other service provider that does not want to recognize or be a part of my wedding, don’t. I don’t expect you to. In turn, if you don’t want gay friends, or a gay lawyer or consultant or teacher (my lines of work), don’t call me. My heart will not be broken.
If you want to convey your beliefs to your children (who are not consenting adults in the legal sense) in your home school or religious school or Sunday school, even if you believe the earth is only 5,000 years old [update: See Tina’s elaboration on this date in the comments] or that gay people are bad, that’s fine. If your kids grow up to defy the law of the land—by beating me up because I’m gay, say—I’ll use the law against them. But I don’t question their right to believe what they (and you) want to. What’s taught in public schools is another matter—I’m helping pay for that, and I think that teachers there should teach students to respect each other, even if other students hold outlandish beliefs, like the notion that Creationism is fact or girl-on-girl love is bad.
I’m asking religious believers to put their beliefs where their mouths are. If you believe your view of the world is right, prove it by the way you live, not by inscribing your beliefs in the laws of the land. I’ll do the same. Respect the way that I choose to order my personal life, and I’ll respect yours.
Toward all people, I try to feel only a desire that you will find your way and let me find mine.
P.S. If you are a Facebook friend, you can see pictures of the wedding!