The Monday Before the Election
Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately. I finished one temp assignment and started another. This one is in Portland, so I have a lot more commute and my day starts earlier and ends later. One bonus side effect of this is more train knitting time, and another is that I finally seamed my Through the Woods hood and have been wearing it every day.
But I’m not here to talk about that.
I’m here to talk about politics, and civil rights, and marriage.
For those of you who don’t know, my fiancé Jack is transgender. He’s very male to me, but because of family health history, he’s opted to forego medically transitioning.
What this means is that as far as the law is concerned, we’re a gay couple.
In Arizona’s last election, they passed a constitutional amendment denying us the right to marry.
Imagine my surprise and delight when Washington’s legislators and governor passed a law legalizing marital equality. On Valentine’s Day, no less.
Suddenly marriage became a real thing, something to plan. We started researching venues and recruiting attendants, like any other couple.
And then enough signatures were passed to put marriage equality on the ballot. Instead of going into effect in July, it would be put on hold until November. Instead of marriage being something I had a right to as a consenting adult who was madly in love with another consenting adult, it was something that my fellow citizens had the right to decide about. It was a “lifestyle” that was somehow threatening to people who had never met me.
Let me tell you this. I’m divorced. I was married in 1999 to a man who was, at the bottom of it all, a Nice Guy. There was a lot of internalized misogyny and self-loathing that went into that decision, and a lot about settling and not rocking the boat as I went through with a marriage I wasn’t sure I wanted when it came down to it. On my wedding day, I was absolutely positive I was marrying the wrong man – but we’d spent a lot of money and I had a lot of family there, so I went through with it.
It was the kind of mistake that lots of young women in their early twenties make. It was the kind of mistake that everyone should be able to make, regardless of gender.
Because marriage isn’t perfect.
But I’m 36 now, and as many women in their mid-thirties have done, I’ve learned a lot about myself. As many people have done, I’ve been through a lot. And as many people have done, I’ve found a partner who treats me with respect and love and makes me happy every single day. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I want nothing more than to commit to sharing the rest of my life with him and have my state (and my insurance company, and so on) acknowledge that I’ve done so.
My legal last name is still my ex-husband’s – changing it back was a stress I couldn’t deal with at the time, and I have no desire to use my mother’s ex-husband’s last name either.
I’ve read a lot of different opinions about name-changing. Jack and I discussed it, at length.
I want to take his name. The change symbolizes the creation of our family, emphasizes my sense of belonging with him. The men whose names I’ve worn up until now have been bad for me; I think it’s about time I had the name of someone good for me.
But first, I have to wait for my fellow citizens to decide whether I’m deserving of making this choice. I made it at 22 without anyone’s intervention, even though I probably wasn’t ready. (Who’s genuinely ready at 22 to make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives? Very few people.)
My county votes by mail, so if you’re local, you’ve probably already voted, but if you have the opportunity in your state (for this election or any other), please, please vote in favor of expanding people’s civil rights. This isn’t about religion, or history, or any of those things. If you’re not in favor of gay marriage, you don’t have to have one. But I’m not in favor of marriages that dissolve in six months, and I’m not allowed to stop them. It’s about the ability of someone like me to make a commitment to another consenting adult they love. It’s about rights.
Happy Election Day, everybody. Get out there and vote.