Thursday, September 27, 2012

42 days: Patrick RichardsFink

This post is a guest post for the 42 days series. Learn more here!

What Marriage Equality Means To Me
I’m bisexual, which means I have attractions to both people of the same gender and people of other genders. Unless I specifically point this out, people assume I’m straight, in no small part because I’ve been happily, lovingly, monogamously married for over 20 years to a straight woman.
It was purely a roll of the genetic dice that led to this. It happened that she was born XX – an approximately 50% chance – and she was assigned a female gender at birth, and is comfortable with this gender identification. Had she been born and assigned as male, or had she transitioned genders to male (or eschewed notions of masculine and feminine altogether and been genderqueer), or had I been female-identified, I would be just as crazy head-over-heels passionately in love with him (or with her, or with hir), but we would not have been able to get married.
It would have been prohibited.
There are perks to marriage, legally, socially, and culturally. There are also basic human rights, the ability to declare your family of choice as your legal family. We are completely unrelated in any genetic sense, and yet she is the person who is, in the eyes of the law, my Next of Kin, the one person who is not only closest to me but is legally empowered to make choices should I be incapacitated. Hey, I’m middle-aged, closer in a very real sense to death than to birth. I *have* to think about these things.
Every long-term relationship goes through periods of struggle and compromise and renegotiation. Being married helps navigate the tough times – not because the piece of paper itself has an intrinsic meaning, but because a legally and socially recognized commitment removes some of the external stresses faced by unmarried couples.
Marriage is not something everyone wants. But for those who do (and, in this culture at this time, the people who desire at least the option to be married, for whatever reason – as a public affirmation of commitment, as a legal handle to protect the interests of our little 2-person corporation which has for the last 15 years included a third person who has special needs, as a significant milestone in our breathless journey together, as a way to empower each other in decision-making -- are at the very least a strong plurality and in all honesty probably the majority), the option *must* be available.

Marriage is a human right. Accidents of birth and acculturation should not be a cause for rights to be restricted, especially in the document that courts use to determine the fundamental basis for law. Laws are to be determined by a legislative process, and in a Republic such as we live in, the Constitution is a means to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Constitutional amendments are not a vehicle to restrict rights, to sidestep the legislative process when it's obvious that you are losing ground to progress.
A great friend and mentor was married a few weeks ago. I recognize her marriage, her friends recognize her marriage, her family recognizes her marriage. It’s not hyperbole to say that it is a crime against humanity that the state of Minnesota does not recognize her marriage – and it would be a further crime to enshrine that arbitrary discrimination in the foundation of the laws of the state. Please vote No, even if you personally do not support marriage equality.
If your church does not wish to marry couples of the same gender, I do not have a problem with that – what I do have a problem with is the idea that your church can legally determine what religious freedoms my church has.

Patrick RichardsFink is a husband, father, bisexual, activist, non-traditional student, ordained Universal Life Church minister with the recognized legal right to officiate marriages in the state of Minnesota, as well as a committed secularist and blogger

As always, if you have anything to add to the conversation, just comment below!

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