8against8: Law, Life, and Love
Guest post from Allison Blixt, a friend-of-a-friend whose personal writeup about gay marriage activism touched me. She said I could reprint it here. Thanks, Allison.
Law, Life and Love
by Allison Blixt
Some of you will think these comments are political, but to me they are just about my day-to-day life. Generally I can’t stand politics and I can’t stand politicians. Too many politicians are all about political rhetoric and promises they won’t keep. I always vote, as it is a right for which women worked very hard, but I often think of it as a choice between the lesser of two evils.
I hope that by writing this, maybe even one person will think of things in a different light.
I have been chatting with some people about the recent decision in Connecticut and Prop 8 in California. For me, the idea of Prop 8 is incredibly frightening, maddening and sad all at the same time. I just can NOT understand why people are fighting with such determination and paying so much money to support efforts to write discrimination into a constitution. Constitutions are generally for guaranteeing rights, not taking them away. How is giving equal rights to gay and lesbian people (that’s right, “PEOPLE” as in working, taxpaying, living, laughing, loving human beings that are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews), in any way, affecting your rights? This I can not understand.
I try to be above it and know that whatever people think, I am OK with myself and my love and that this is all that matters. Unfortunately, the reality is that it is not all that matters. I had to leave the country because of people’s views of who I am and beliefs that I am not equal to them. Historically, people left England to go to the US for religious freedom and freedom from the crown. Look where we are today. It is almost worth laughing about, not quite, but almost.
I have had numerous conversations with people who don’t understand why “marriage” is the issue and why gay people can’t be happy with some other type of unions…domestic partnerships, civil unions, or something else. Domestic partnerships and civil unions are going in the right direction, BUT they are still saying it is socially and politically acceptable to treat gay and lesbian PEOPLE as something less than equal. Separate has never been equal.
Whether the unions are called marriage or something else, our federal government does not recognize any of them. This is a day-to-day issue for me, since I had to choose between my country and my love. My partner, soon to be recognized as my legal partner under UK law (we
can enter into a civil partnership here, giving us all the rights of a married couple for UK purposes only), is Italian. At least we were lucky that our circumstances allowed us to move to the UK to be together. She can live here without restriction, since she is a citizen of the EU. I was fortunate enough to have an employer that has an office in London and had opportunities for me to work here and continue my career. As much as I complain about the UK, it is one of TWO countries that we can legally reside in together at this juncture. For this, I am endlessly thankful to the UK. (We also could have lived together in Canada, if we had gone through a long visa process.)
The fact that I had to leave the US still saddens me everyday. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss Brooklyn. I miss being a 2 1/2 or less hour flight from almost everyone that I care about deeply. I miss the security of being regarded as a US citizen entitled to the same rights and protections as everyone else. I have been dealing with the reality of this for the past few years in trying to decide whether to move out of the country to be with my partner. I was often frustrated and sad and angry and 100,000 other emotions. It didn’t totally wallop me until I was already living over here and had gone back to NC for my sister’s wedding (funny that it was for a wedding, considering the situation). I moved over here in April and went back for the wedding in May. I was thoroughly moved and touched by the open-armed acceptance of my partner and me as a couple by friends, family, family friends and relatives. It has not been an easy road, but everyone was amazing. Friends of my mom that I see every once in awhile saw my partner in the elevator of the hotel, asked if they were correct in assuming she was who they thought, and gave her huge hugs. This was not in NY or CT, this was in Winston-Salem, NC. This is only one example, but everyone there was amazingly supportive. We had a wonderful time, and it made me really happy to feel so loved and accepted. Then we got on the plane to leave. That was the moment when it walloped me. I was flying away from all of these people that love me, respect me and accept me as me, because of the law; because of the religious right that is supposed to be separate from the law. I was flooded with emotion and left the ground in Charlotte as a bawling mess.
This is why I care about the politicization of my life and my love. I hope I have opened a few eyes to the real world impact of these measures on real people’s lives. I think one of the best ways to stop the spiral toward discrimination becoming the law is to talk about the impact of all of this with people that wouldn’t otherwise think about it: co-workers, friends of friends, random people that you meet, family friends, and others. When family friends and relatives realize what the stance of the federal government has meant to me, I hope it opens their eyes to what they would never have thought about otherwise. I hope that if anything like Prop 8 ends up on the ballot in NC, they will vote no. If they do, then that is one small way in which I have contributed.