With one small action, I took a big step today. As a matter of fact, it felt like stepping into the breach. It was simple, just 2 phone calls. I’ve used the phone before so making these calls should not have caused the anxiety that it did. I hesitated to dial the numbers, which surprised me, because I’ve had experience in facing the fears and taking the necessary steps to combat the big things in life.
I called the local offices of my state Senator and state Representative. I’ve requested an appointment to meet with them and discuss a few bills that have been introduced into the State House and Senate. House Bill 1400 is the topic of conversation I have planned when I meet with my Representative, Deberah Kula. This bill would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission law to add sexual orientation as well as gender identity and expression to the list of protected minority groups, which already includes the following: race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, handicap or disability, use of guide or support animals because of the blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals.
Do I feel oppression based on my orientation? Generally, no, I do not. However, I have been subject to discrimination, harassment, and have been served poorly by cashiers or wait-persons which I suspect has been based on my being gay. Would I like to see some state-wide uniform policy about that kind of discrimination? You bet I would.
Of greater importance is my meeting with Senator Kasunic. He is the only democratic sponsor of Senate Bill 1250, which is a proposed amendment to the state constitution. This amendment is the so-called “Protection of Marriage” amendment. I’m not sure why marriage needs protection, but a fair number of extremely conservative and fundamentally religious types seem convinced that if gays are allowed to marry, the institution itself will suffer irreparable harm. Pennsylvania already has laws denying marriage to homosexual couples. I see no reason to write discrimination into the state constitution.
I also wonder why some people are so concerned about allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Increasing the number of eligible participants seems to make sense. There is obviously a significant number of gays and lesbians who wish to purchase a marriage license. Marriage discourages promiscuity, enforces certain social standards, and allows couples to care for each other in a way that no other relationship can provide. My relationship with my partner is very much like a marriage. We don’t have the license, and we don’t have the financial benefits, nor do we have the more than 1200 benefits granted to straight married couples, but we do live our lives as spouses to each other. None of the straight couples in the neighborhood seem to be suffering because of our presence. I doubt that a legal document, and the attending benefits, if we could ever secure that license, would affect the quality of the straight marriages here on our street.
We’ve decided that we cannot wait. We will continue to fight for our right to marry, which is why I made that phone call to my state Senator. We’ve also made plans to get married. That’s right, we’re having a wedding. We will declare our love and allegiance to each other in front of God and family and friends on a bright summer Saturday in August 2008. It won’t matter that our home state won’t give us the license. Our love will be the same. Perhaps you’d better call a marriage counselor, just in case our vows make yours null and void.