And losing all my friends. But I've decided that's okay. I keep thinking that I just have to hold the fury in a few days more,and then it will be okay, and I can talk to people again without risking ruining relationships with my anger, but that "few days more" keeps stretching to a few weeks, a few months, and then four more years.
Today is my sixteenth anniversary. Do you know what Catherine and I did on our first date 16 years ago? We went canvassing, handing out literature against Measure 9, an anti-gay measure sponsored by the OCA. A few years later, we were working on No on 13 (same measure, different number). We left Oregon before we had to work against yet another Measure 9.
Seriously, you'd think in 16 years, things would change. I bought into the (Bill) Clinton's administration promise, and look what I got--a president who wouldn't even speak to us at March on Washington, and Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I got a President who signed Public Law No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419, otherwise known as the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. And since that time, I've watched the U.S. become swept up in anti-gay legislation--only five states do not have some sort of statute against gay marriage (in most cases, that "statute" comes in the form of an amendment to the state Constitution). Anti-gay politics has evolved into a very pro-active institution--think of what gay people might want to do, and take that right away from them before they even knew they had it to begin with.
And we're at it again, of course, with Prop 8. There was no point in getting excited about being allowed to marry in California, because you know that ten minutes after permission was granted, we were all pulling out our pocketbooks to fund the campaign to preserve that right. It seems like improvement, fighting for the right to get married, rather that just the right to have sex without going to jail, but let me tell you, it feels exactly the same on an emotional level.
And we're at it again in other ways, too. Once again, I'm being told that I shouldn't expect too much or any support from any presidential candidate. How many times have I been asked in the last sixteen years to put my own civil rights on hold so we could elect "the best" candidate, a candidate that would surely fight for me once he or she got into office? Yeah, and how has that worked out for me? Not very well, I can tell you that. That's why endless comments like those made in response to Andrew Sullivan just piss me off--how many times can I be asked to sell myself and my relationship out for the Democrats? How many times am I going to be blamed for the loss of a presidential election for being too controversial? Don't be too vocal about Prop 8, you don't want to mobilize the religious right in California and lose the state for Obama! Well, fuck that noise.
And news flash for you: it's cowardly for a presidential to say that marriage is a "states' rights" issue. It's also just false. Let me tell you, it's not State law that is keeping me away from Catherine this year, it's a Federal law. A federal law signed by a Democrat.
Well, I waived my right to a secret ballot so I could vote through e-mail from here in London, so I can say that I voted the way everyone around me wanted me to vote. But I don't feel good about it, in fact, I may feel worse than after the last two elections. Once again, all I'm getting is more "separate but equal" rhetoric. Welcome, again, to the back of the bus.
So, when I get yet another e-mail from a friend telling me to be sure to cast my absentee ballot for Obama, I have to stop and remind myself that this person doesn't understand the level of sacrifice they are once again asking of me. It takes a long time for me to lose my political anger after every election season, and I have to work very hard to remember, "These people are my friends, they don't mean to hurt me." And I tell myself, "Really, don't be selfish, it's not all about YOU." And that is so true, it's never about me. If it were about me, I would be able to vote for a President who actually believed that everyone deserved the same rights.
I really miss Catherine, and I hate everyone who helped make this twelve-month separation possible, including myself.