Reporter Karen Ocamb invited me to contribute this piece for her Prop 8: One Year Anniversary series on her blog LGBT POV. I don't write a lot of deeply personal pieces for Unite the Fight, but what happened last night in Maine was personal, and so I respond in kind.
Last Friday I was a nervous wreck. I had asked several friends for input, and though all of them were very helpful, I knew that only I could come up with the best plan. Of course one of my friends, making me even more nervous than I already was, reminded me, “You only get to do this once. It has to be perfect.”
With my friend’s words echoing in my ears, I hastily yet carefully filled the apartment that I share with my boyfriend with lit candles, dusted and washed the dishes, used mouthwash, actually put on a tie and trimmed the jungle beard. When Loch came home from work, I got down on one knee, took out two rings and proposed.
Loch said yes. We cried.
Last night I was a nervous wreck. Again. I was live blogging the election night results, constantly updating Unite the Fight with poll numbers from Maine and Washington, Twittering like a mad man. I felt the same adrenaline rush that I felt Friday night, the same excitement of possible history in the making. I even began picturing a wedding in Maine.
Maine said yes. I cried.
“Yes.” That answer brought tears of joy to me Friday. But last night, it brought tears of sorrow. With 93% of precincts reporting, Mainers voted Yes 52.77% to 47.23% to killing the marriage equality bill passed by their legislature and signed by their Catholic governor.
Last November, Loch and I had been dating for 8 months. During the Summer of Love, the idea of marriage for us was almost a joke - we were still trying to figure which one of us had to fight traffic and drive across town to stay at the other’s apartment for the night. But when Prop 8 passed, we were devastated. Though neither of us knew where our relationship was headed, the idea that a majority of our fellow citizens told us where it couldn’t go hurt us deeply.
So we took to the streets. And I started Unite the Fight.
A year later, marriage is not a joke to us. We’ve arrived. We’re ready. And I wanted to celebrate our engagement with a win in Maine. But there was another reason I so desperately wanted Maine to uphold marriage equality.
I come from a very fundamental, Christian background. My family is so deeply rooted in religion that my parents became missionaries, and at a young age, I was taken all over the world to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I came out to my parents when I was 18. I had to subsequently come out three more times to get past their denial.
Fourteen years later, my parents still struggle with my being gay. They have never once met anyone I have ever dated, nor during that time did they ever ask if I was seeing anyone, carefully picking questions during phone calls to avoid the topic of my personal life. Yet they have always made it clear that they love me despite arguing that my choices are an abomination.
It was a big step just telling them about Loch. Loch was different. He was the one. And I knew that he was going to be a part of my family. But I had to figure out who else consisted of my true family. Were my parents going to be included in that unit? Were they going to participate in that aspect of my life?
It hasn’t been easy. We face our true test this Sunday. For the first time ever, my parents are going to meet someone that I love. And not only that, they’re going to be meeting my husband-to-be.
I wanted so badly for Maine to stand beside Loch and myself when we sit down for dinner with my parents Sunday. I wanted deeply to have a whole state to have our backs when I proudly introduced my fiancé to my parents. Though I don’t require the approval of anyone anywhere to sanctify my relationship with Loch, having a marriage that is not only recognized by a government but by my fellow citizens sends a powerful message not only to a faceless nation but to the very real people who are my parents.
I can’t change what happened in Maine. I can’t change the fact that I won’t have my wedding in the gorgeous Pine Tree State. I can’t change that two years in a row, a slight majority voted away my rights.
But I can continue to take a stand. I can continue to fight for what is right and just and fair. I can continue to struggle to protect my future marriage and the children that I plan to have with Loch.
And though I cry as I write this, and feel defeated, I refuse to let what happened in Maine keep me down.
Tonight, all across the state of California and different parts of the country, rallies and marches are being held to mark the historical blot on our nation’s history that is Proposition 8. We must remember that though Proposition 8 stripped us of our rights as it tore our hearts out, it also woke the sleeping giant that is the LGBT population.
Proposition 8 and Question 1 are just chapters of a beautiful tome that will tell the amazing story of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement.
Today, Kate Kendall of NCLR responded to the passage of Question 1, saying, “We are in a difficult moment. This is a hard day. But we can't lose hope or stop believing in the rightness of our cause. We have the privilege of living in the midst of our own civil rights movement. The cost of that privilege is the same cost it has been in every movement--our humanity and dignity is attacked and undermined and we stand tall, never give up, and never lose faith. Today is a test, and we must be the measure of it.”
We are privileged. Don’t forget that. Stand up tonight. Take to the streets. We’re the authors of our own story. Let’s give this adventure a happy ending.
Image of Loch and me by Marta Evry.