Friday, January 22, 2010

Freedom to Marry - Why it matters to me?

My partner and I were recently asked to speak briefly at the local Freedom to Marry day rally. It is a big event in Fort Collins where several hundred folks gather in the town center for a rally with some music and speakers. The ruly mob (as opposed to an unruly mob) then marches to a local venue for a wedding reception, wedding cake and all. My partner and I have been attending for the last several years. Near the end of the rally, all of the committed partners in the crowd who are willing are invited up on stage and the total of all the years together of all the couples on the stage is tabulated and announced. Though we have just celebrated 27 years being a committed couple, we do get to claim marriage, and all of its benefits. (well, most anyway). We never have gone up on stage because is seems somehow inappropriate. Instead, we cheer and help celebrate those couples that are denied this basic human right.

We have tentatively declined the invitation to speak. Not because we don't want to do it, but there is just too much going on in our lives right now to take the time and do the public speaking justice. (For one, the band I'm in is playing at the Reception!)

But, I have been thinking about what I would say. It centers around the essential question, "Why does Freedom to Marry matter to me, a married trans woman?" Here are some of the talking points I came up with:
  • To ensure the rights for all of the same sex couples I know
  • To ensure the rights for all of the same sex couples I don't know
  • To ensure the rights for all of the wonderful gay and lesbian people, whether I know then or not
  • To ensure the rights for all of the gay and lesbian people that I don't know are gay and lesbian
  • To ensure the rights for myself and my partner, given the reactive political environment in which we live, our privilege of marriage is tentative at best
  • Because no one necessarily believes we are actually married. (I've known cases where HR weenies have threatened to withhold imputed-income for benefits as a consequence of a couple where one partner transition, ignoring the legality of the marriage)
  • Because should are marriage falter, I can only marry a man (I am lesbian), unless in Texas, where it is not clear I could legally marry anybody.
  • Because it is the right thing to do...