Friday, August 20, 2004

What a day that was ...

On Thursday, August 12th, 2004, I became a (conditional) permanent resident of the United States. On the same day, the Supreme Court of California acted to overturn the marriages of 3,955 same-sex couples, many of whom were married on the same day as Maryl and me, this springtime. It seems that Maryl and I are intricately entangled with the issue of Gay Marriage. What a chain of coincidence - first we were married on the same day, then our right to abide together (vital for an international couple) was granted on the same day that theirs was prevented.

Maryl knows some cool people (birds of a feather, of course). Before the day was out she'd had a call from the organizers of the protest which marched to City Hall that evening, asking if we'd come and speak and sing to them. Of all the things I never expected on this trip, we found ourselves infront of several hundred people, trying to comfort them with support in their season of oppression.

In Thomas Paine's words, "a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason."

Many in the older generations will have a hard time realizing that restricting the rights of marriage to one category of applicants is precisely that - a restriction on freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Many surveys (for example, this article in the Seattle Times) show that the swing is inexorable - younger people see less and less reason for this form of discrimination. The writing is on the wall - when these changes happen (look at slavery, women's suffrage, interracial marriage), opinions never go back. Future generations are appalled at the barbarity of their recent forbears, and the arguments that were used to justify such institutionized repression.

I'm not trying to cause a big sensation. I'm just talking about my generation.

Sensation will arise only through resistance to natural historical processes. You can delay emancipation, you cannot halt it. The stalwarts of delay will only be remembered as a historic embarassment to a progressing society.

Several kind people have sent Maryl and me photographs and video footage of our performance in front of City Hall. The balance is rotten and the vocals are simply awful. But when my grandchildren ask me "where were you?", I'll be proud to show them "we were there".

Because our grandchildren won't be asking "Which side was right?". But they might be asking "What did you do?"

Sunday, August 01, 2004

On a lighter note ...

I celebrated my 30th birthday party last weekend and I'm now officially a grown-up, I think. We toured downtown Pittsburgh and the beginnings of the Ohio River on a World War II Ducky Boat, were hosted for a wonderful dinner by MaryMichael and Rich Tribone from MAYA, and on Friday night Maryl organized a stupendous fireworks display over the water. (Many onlookers thought that this was for the baseball game rather than Dom's birthday, but that didn't bother me one bit.)

To celebrate this landmark, I'd like to include a poem written a dozen or so years ago by a fellow who happened to have fallen in with a team of fundamentalist Christian missionaries in Bolivia. No history or politics today - just a bone fide Red Wine Wibble.


Meditations on a Peppered Steak

It was a lovely cut of meat
(Or at least, appeared so from my seat)
And so my steak I for to eat
Did intend.

My first impression had been right
For as I knew from very first bite
I was to spend a delectable night -
A Godsend.

One sorrrow only marred my bliss
For Bacchus company I sore did miss
There was no consolation this
Could ammend.

And this alone my joy did take,
For 'tis confessed e'en by scoundrel and rake
That food and wine together make
Perfect blend.

So if you take me out to dine
Be sure to give me lots of wine
Else bugger off and bugger swine!
(My friend.)