anonymous call, a poison pen

2/3/05

I never forward emails – well, I forward all the ones that make fun of Duke University – but Tessa’s best friend Jason just wrote a missive that I felt I needed to put on here. Jason happens to be a gay man who married his long-time partner Tim during that brief stretch of civility known as February 2004. In December, they adopted a baby they named Noah, and since then, the two of them have been juggling their jobs and the hair-losing craziness of raising an infant.

A few days ago, Jason sent out this email, and I wanted to share bits of it with you. Because of the fucked-up way the world works, a letter like this has intrinsic value coming from my blog, because, well, I’m not gay, I’m in a monogamous marriage with my wife, and I have absolutely nothing to gain from the defeat of any anti-gay legislation, other than the feeling this country may have a few good people left in it.

Here’s his email:

I have spent a lot of time trying to express the situation we find ourselves in. Since Noah was born, this subject has become incredibly urgent for me.

I am writing to ask you to speak out against the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment,” which is again being considered in Congress. The “pro-family” people behind the amendment are doing all they can to ban recognition of my family, despite the fact that it can only serve to hurt my son. They know this is true; the sad fact is, they don’t care. Tim and I are tax-paying patriots just like you. In addition, I give a great deal of time to my city and state in not one, but two, volunteer public service positions. Yet, these people are seeking to permanently make Tim and me second-class citizens by denying us the basic civil right of marriage.

Please understand that this amendment would ban recognition not only of same-sex marriages, but of domestic partnerships, civil unions, or any other relationship that included the “incidents of marriage.” The Amendment would force California, Vermont and Massachusetts to strip their citizens of any rights and protections afforded to same-sex and other “unmarried” couples.

Are you aware that it is dangerous for Tim and me to travel to visit family in Kentucky or North Carolina together because, were either of us injured or in need of hospitalization, the other could not only not visit but could not make vital medical decisions — despite the fact that we have been in a committed, monogamous relationship for nearly six years, share property, and have a son together. There is even some question of whether we would both be allowed to make decisions for Noah, should one of us be injured. (Now you know why we are hesitant to visit.)

This sad fact is true in most states. Same sex couples can not receive Social Security death benefits for a deceased loved one. Often, the surviving partner is subject to reassessment and higher taxes on a home they have shared for years — and that’s only when both names were on the title; otherwise, partners often lose their homes because the state doesn’t recognize partners as next of kin. I could go on and on. There are over 1,000 federal and state benefits to being married which you receive and I help pay for, but which I am denied. And this group wants to see that I am permanently unable to receive them.

This idea of marriage “protection” is crazy — and dishonest. We are not attacking the institution of marriage by seeking to be included in it. How could your marriage be harmed by mine? Will you get divorced if Tim and I get married? Please know that this is not a question of religious freedom, either. No law in any state would in any way force an unwilling church to perform a same-sex marriage. This is only about the civil institution of marriage, a basic service provided by states for their citizens. If same-sex marriage were legalized in your state, willing churches, like mine (All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena), which perform marriages or commitment ceremonies, would continue to do so; those that do not would not be required to start.

And yet, the President and others on his side know that they can get a lot of support by making you think you and your values are under attack. The truth is, Tim and I, and millions of couples like us, share your values. Why else would we work so hard to get married? So we can protect our family and teach our son about the meaning of commitment.

I am reminded of a famous quote by the Nazi propagandist Hermann Goering, who said, “it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked.”

This is exactly what we’re seeing in our government today — the systematic vilification of a group of citizens by playing on stereotypes and unfounded fears, just as the Nazis vilified the Jews and others. Please speak out before this nonsense gets worse. How far are we, really, from some right-wing nut in Congress asking to have same-sex couples detained before we “attack” more marriages? Is this so crazy? I imagine it sounded crazy in Germany in the ‘30s, too.

This amendment is wrong. Please let your representatives know how appalling and un-American this is. Please stand up for basic human decency. Stand up for democracy. Stand up for “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Click here to find your representatives and your senators and call their offices to ask them to vote against the “Marriage Protection Amendment.”

(You’ll need to know your Zip-Plus 4. If you don’t know it, check any business envelope to you, click here to find it first.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and consider. It’s a very serious matter for me and my family. Please think about it. And feel free to forward this letter.

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