The overturn of Proposition 8 in California last week by federal judge Vaughn Walker was indeed good news. Not only did it overturn one of meanest-spirited pieces of legislation in modern history, Walker’s 136-page ruling made a number of eloquent and cogent points. He challenged the heterosexist assumption that all or any heterosexual relationship is inherently superior to any same-sex relationship. He confronted that just because some people (anti-gay ones) simply don’t like others (gay ones), is not a reason for a state to legislate against them or take away fundamental rights, and marriage has been previously determined to be a legal, fundamental, secular state civil right. His reasoning goes on and on to take the anti-gay, bigoted Prop 8 proponents to task, and expose them for the vile hateful creatures that they are.
I’m married, and my wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life. My marriage is a source of daily happiness for me and for my husband. And anyone who would deny the happiness that weddings and marriages can bring to a person and to a couple cannot be considered anything else than a mean-spirited, bigoted, emotionally violent person, regardless of whatever else they are or whatever else “good” they do. Adolf Hitler petted his dog, too; that doesn’t make him a good person. He was a vile monster of the 20th Century, regardless of how the pup would have evaluated him. Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage is a miserable excuse for a human being regardless of whatever qualities as a wife/mother/neighbor, etc. she might otherwise be. She, and the Prop 8 supporters like her, have a choice. And if you choose to indulge in pure, mean-spirited bigotry, and you work with your voice, pen, and votes to deny happiness and freedom in equal rights under the Law against people YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW, simply because they are biologically different and you feel inherently genetically superior to them, then you deserve all the criticism you get.
One of my dearest friends gets after me for how heated my rhetoric gets when I talk about this subject. And I know, as a therapist, that emotional affect regulation is a very important skill; I work with clients on this. But affect regulation does not mean that we give up our passions, even the red-hot, vivid ones. My relationship, what my husband means to me, and my investment in seeing social justice done (I can’t help it; I’m a Libra and a social worker; that’s about as social-justice-conscious as you can get, save being a hippie, and I’m younger than that generation, thank you) runs to the very core of my most deeply-held personal values, and when those are threatened, those are fighting words. It’s like a mother lion protecting her cubs. You have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything. I advise everyone to have at least one or two passions that they get heated about; without that, I think you have to take your pulse to see if you’re alive. Don’t be afraid to have passions, and don’t be afraid to have enemies. If Maggie Gallagher thinks I’m the Devil Incarnate for calling her a miserable excuse for a human being for her dedicating her public life to virulently anti-gay efforts that cause real suffering to real people by the tens of millions, so be it. If you judge a man by his enemies, I must be doing something right, because my enemies are some of the most vicious, criminal, violent, mean-spirited, bigoted, self-absorbed, ivory-tower conservatives known to man. And conversely, my friends are some of the most kind-hearted, progressive, generous, gentle, productive, learned, smart, insightful, kind and creative people around. I am SO proud of that.
So how does the overturn of Prop 8 affect gay men’s mental health (the purpose of my blog)? Because as gay men, we were formerly little gay boys. And every time we hear some jack-off conservative politician denigrate us in the most crass but still vicious rhetoric possible, the Inner Child Gay Boy in us hears that, and re-visits negative emotions that we grew up with — things that chipped away at our self-esteem, made us feel “less than”, undermined our confidence, undermined our self-worth, and depressed us. Even with adult critical thinking to recognize a stupid conservative bigot for what he/she is, spouting off to their base by whatever media means they have access to, it still stings a bit. So, the opposite is also true. When a person with considerable power, influence, and intellect such as a federal judge basically tells the vicious Prop 8 supporters to politically fuck off by invalidating their self-indulgent legislative gay-bashing, the Inner Child Gay Boy in us rejoices, feels validated, gains confidence, puffs up his chest, and smiles the sweet smile of social justice victory. That’ll boost up your day.
Sure, we still have the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals battle, and the Supreme Court battle, but I’m feeling great this week. Cooler, better heads have prevailed, and I’m hoping that it won’t be long before we see photos in the media of same-sex couples in California who are as happy on their wedding day as my husband and I were on ours. That’s my wish for all same-sex couples, to be drunk on that particular, unique kind of Wedding Day Joy. Bless them for that. THAT is worth fighting for, whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many layers of legislative gymnastic hoops we need to jump through.
Sometimes, the good guys win