We pay taxes. A lot of taxes actually. More than our share. Why? Because we are not recognized as a couple and therefore must file separately. The system is set up, for us anyway, so that we actually have to file a dummy federal income tax return with our state tax return, in both states where we own property. We consider ourselves married. Have been together for over 9 years now. Work and continue to support the economy. Give to charity. Own property. We try to buy local, support the farms in our area, and we are good citizens. We follow the rules, never hurt anyone, haven’t been arrested. We love our families, our friends, and each other. Apparently, that’s all not enough. And apparently we are legally obligated to pay an extra $2000 in taxes without getting all the benefits and rights afforded to couples who don’t happen to be the same sex. Apparently of the people, by the people, and for the people doesn’t include us as “the people”. This angers me.
I haven’t spoken out much on this topic until now because honestly we just go about our lives. Our lives are full and lovely, which takes most of our attention. But when something like what just happened in North Carolina happens, we talk about it. We are outraged. And frankly, a tad stunned. We know there are haters out there. And they can say that they are just concerned for the sanctity of marriage, but common, they hate. How else can you justify completely obliterating someone else’s civil rights? You don’t do something like that out of love and concern, you do it out of fear and hate.
There have been oh so many conversations, statements to the press, position clarifying notices, etc. and I’m sick of all of it. What this comes down to is the basic undermining of a whole segment of the populations civil rights. And don’t be mistaken, this is a civil rights issue. If it weren’t we wouldn’t be paying more taxes than we should. If it was only about the sanctity of marriage there would be, at least, federal civil unions that would include us, take us into consideration, honor our love of this country. But there isn’t… and here we are. North Carolina doesn’t only ban same sex marriage, they get rid of civil unions as well. Sanctity of marriage? Yeah right.
I could go on and on about how we are the same as everyone else… but I won’t. No one listens to that. To the people who would, and do, slam the door in our face there’s not a lot of listening happening anyway. I don’t understand this, but there it is. I was raised to treat people as you would be treated. I was raised to be considerate and kind and generous and tolerant and caring. I was raised to believe that until you walk in someone’s shoes you should never judge them. I was raised to give people the benefit of the doubt and to try and understand all sides before going off half cocked. I was raised to do unto others and judge not lest ye be judged. The funny thing is I was raised by an atheist and an agnostic. I was raised without religion in my life, except during those incredibly judgmental visits to an evangelical grandmother who, as I got older and really saw her, treated my wonderful little brother like a piece of trash. I have no idea why. She played favorites. I was a favorite, he was not. When this realization hit home, when I finally saw her and her behavior I stayed with her less and less. Until I didn’t stay with her anymore at all. I also stayed with her less and less because she would tell fire and brimstone stories trying to scare me into believing. She referred to my mother as that “heathen” woman. I now realize she was bitter and angry and felt as though life took her in a direction or directions she didn’t really want to go. It does not justify her behavior. It was appalling.
This is not to say that I don’t like religion. It has not always been kind to the ones I love, and those wielding it have not always been kind to me either. But I’m interested in it. Sort of fascinated by it really. I respect people of faith who are honest, humble, devout, and spiritual. I know some fantastic people who are very religious, but who also love me, accept me, support me. They know they should not speak for God. They know they shouldn’t judge. If you are Christian judgement is God’s job. Not yours. They know this. I respect them and their faith. It’s as big a part of them as being creative is a part of me. They live it, walk it, talk it, see the world through it, and because they do they have grace. Grace, by the way, I have not just seen in people who are christian, but that’s a story for another time. Those people of religion I respect. I even envy their conviction sometimes. My fascination with religion lead me to take a few religion classes in college. What I learned? All religions hold the “do unto others” golden rule as a basic principle. Do unto others…. I guess that to some people of religious faith the do unto others only counts if you are exactly like them, believe exactly like them, and love exactly like they want you to.
Marriage. An institution. If it were only performed in churches, maybe I would get it. But nowadays, in these times, marriages are performed by judges and captains of ships as well. They are legal and binding. They afford those who are able to marry with certain rights given to them just because they got married. We had to pay an attorney $1600 to get some of those same rights, and even still we don’t get all of them. I don’t understand. If your church pastor doesn’t want to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples, OK, I have no problem with that. But don’t tell some other pastor of some other church who would be more than willing to marry us that he or she can’t. Keep your beliefs, your faith, your upholding of what your interpretation of the bible is, but keep that for yourself. Keep it for your family. Don’t try decide for me who I can marry, how I should live, or what has meaning for me. I’ve never understood how one group of people could look at another group of people and have the arrogance to believe they know what’s best for them. And yes, I know there have been wars, and freedoms purchased with beliefs like that, but I’m not hurting anyone. It’s like declaring war on a group of pacifists. We don’t want to fight, or tell you how to live, or what you can or can’t do. Why should you have the right to tell us?
I’m rambling, but these are the things I think when states, North Carolina in this case, gets involved in my life. And again I’ll say… it’s a civil rights issue people. The Constitution of the United States of America, Article IV: Section 2: Clause 1 reads, “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.” Amendment XIV Section 1 states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” And I’m expected to adhere to Amendment XVI that reads, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” without being afforded the rights paying those taxes affords most of it’s citizens. Is this fair or equal? Not on your life.
The definition… “Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals‘ freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.” Where are mine? Where are the rights of so many of my friends who are good citizens as well, but who don’t have the civil rights of our neighbors, friends, co-workers, our families. We are discriminated against. And we are being repressed.
I guess what it all comes down to, as I know people on the other side of this issue have quotes of their own, interpretations of their own, and their own beliefs about what is and isn’t a right, is that I’m tired of it. I live in a country where all men and women aren’t created equally. I thought we’d be better than this. We can be. We can be our best selves if we step out of fear and anger. It’s possible. Some day, for most of us, it is possible. Someday we will live equally. Someday we will. I have hope for that. I am hopeful. Disappointed, again, but hopeful. Even if some people of faith and conservative family values may never accept my relationship, it is just that… my relationship. It infringes on no one. I just wish, and am, again, hopeful for the day when my rights aren’t infringed on. I’m hopeful a day will come when all men and women are created equally. I’m hopeful for a time when people don’t fear my love for my woman and I don’t have to fear being treated differently or hurtfully because of my love for my woman. I believe that day is coming. It has to.