The REAL Rainbow Flag Challenge


Freedom Flag

This is one of those times where I’ve deleted more words than I’ll print, letting myself vent and then release them into the aether.

I’m exceptionally happy that the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 majority, ruled that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional because they represent a violation of the notion of equal protection under the law. We’ve had same-sex marriage in Massachusetts for years now, and I can tell you that there’s been no erosion of “traditional” marriage. If anything, it’s made differently-gendered marriages even more valid, because it wasn’t then some kind of exclusive, members-only deal. Everyone has an equal opportunity to get in on it.

There’s a simple solution for those who can’t ever imagine marrying someone of the same gender: don’t do it. Enjoining others from the equality afforded under the Constitution…well, that’s just not acceptable and, frankly, it’s un-American. Separate and unequal under the guise of nebulous “religious rights” is counter to the First Amendment’s requirement that “no establishment of religion” should be made. [Furthermore, recent polls from Gallup and the Pew Research Center confirm that a majority of Americans are pro-same-sex marriage.]

I was happy to see that my Facebook friends were rainbow’ing-up their profile pics in droves, covering my Facebook feed like a cacophonous Freedom Flag photo collage. These were people who, in some cases, have expressed varying levels of positive support for the notion of “marriage equality”–that same-sex couples are no less deserving of wedded bliss than those of different genders.

As the weekend drew to a close, and everyone’s rainbow-drunk started to wear off somewhat now that the novelty of the ruling had faded, I started to see some people change their profile picture back to its original form. And this is what worries me about transient activism.

It’s one thing to say that you support same-sex marriage, and it’s another thing to actually DO something about equality. Lighting up your Facebook feed is useless if it isn’t accompanied by then providing support to LGBTQQ people beyond social media alone.

Here’s a quick list of ways to take the support over the rainbow:

We have an opportunity here, to broadly embrace marriage equality as a sign of the full human worth of LGBTQQ individuals, and it’s going to take more than a coat of rainbow-washing on profile pics. I hope we can go beyond that, and truly make equality and inclusiveness a priority for our society: for race, for gender, for sexual orientation, and for gender identity. No one should be left behind. And we need to move forward. Together.

{interlude} What if one of my kids is gay?

Having not one but two Supreme Court cases discussing issues around same-sex marriage or “gay marriage”, it seemed like a good time to have this chat. I don’t tend to get on my soapbox a lot, but when I do it’s because I really feel the need to say something. [Cases this week: Hollingsworth v Perry and United States v Windsor]

With my 3-1/2yo ds loving running around the house in a skirt – and even asking to wear it out – of course there’s always a question of, “Is this just dress up?” After all, doesn’t skirt-wearing and doll-playing automatically turn a boy gay? Er, no. And even if it did, SO EFFING WHAT?

Boys and girls like to play dress up. It’s utterly insane that girls can dress in “boy” clothes and people call them “tomboys”, while boys who dress in “girl” clothes are automatically labeled as “gay”. Is it because the clothes suggest femininity and any sign of femininity by a male connotes homosexuality? (Try telling that to the strapping lads of Scotland in their lovely kilts!) And since when is “gay” a bad thing? WHAT IS WRONG WITH BEING GAY?

Oh right, there’s NOTHING wrong with being gay. (or bi, or trans, for that matter)

Sure, there are people who have religious arguments against anyone who’s not heterosexual, but these arguments fall apart as you start to work into the basis of their theological structure. If one believes that a specific higher power is infallible and doesn’t make mistakes, then the variety in our society – including in sexual orientation – isn’t a mistake, either. Diversity is not a negative.

It’s completely unclear to me how one person being (or not being) gay harms someone who isn’t gay – especially when these individuals may never come into any contact with each other. Why should the idea of two gay people marrying in California be such a bugaboo for people who live in Utah? The truth is, this whole notion of “eroding traditional marriage” is nothing but complete and utter crap. It’s just a crap argument, period. My marriage to dh isn’t harmed or even remotely affected by gay residents of any state, including our own trailblazing Massachusetts, getting married to each other.

What bothers me so incredibly much about these court cases that have to be run past the Supremes is that you have people essentially arguing that it’s okay to create two classes of citizens: one that can have all the rights that are bestowed to married people and one that cannot. You have a new variant on the “separate but equal” concept espoused in the 1896 case of Plessy v Ferguson (which was overturned in 1954’s Brown v Board of Education). The basic premise of the Plessy decision was a complete fallacy: separate but equal may be separate but it’s never equal.

I heard a snippet tonight on NPR’s “All Things Considered”, where a protestor outside the Supreme Court talked about why gay marriage is a sign that our society is going in the wrong direction. It’s not what The Founders would have wanted, and it’s not what they intended. She’s absolutely right about the last point – the men who founded this country would be shocked by the idea of gay marriage. They’d probably also be having massive heart attacks about having a non-white President and having had female cabinet secretaries, since the documents on which they built our country and the society they designed accepted slavery as a perfectly normal way of life. Women weren’t allowed to vote until the 1900’s. Before we hold up the late 1700’s as a perfect example of how our society was constructed, perhaps we should make sure reflects the values our society has grown and evolved to accept.

And so, I eventually wrap around to the issue at hand: What if one of my kids is gay? What then? What do I do? What do I say?

For me, it’s a pretty easy answer. There are a few things I’d do right off the bat:

1) I would remind them that I love them.

2) I would remind them that I support them.

3) I would give them hugs.

4) I would congratulate and thank them for telling me.

That’s it. There’s no inner conflict for me.

There’s nothing wrong with being gay, just like there’s nothing wrong with not being gay. If I want my kids to be able to grow up in a world that’s even better than the one I was born into, it’s up to me (and dh) to give them the support they need to thrive and succeed. Being accepting of who they are – and reminding them that our love comes unconditionally – is part and parcel of being the kind of parents we want to be.

This isn’t rocket science. Hate isn’t cool. Ignorance isn’t cool. Separate but equal is nothing more than separate and unequal. Our society can only progress toward enlightenment through embracing our diversity. For me, that starts with embracing my kids.

So, regardless of what they may one day say – “Mom, I’m gay!”, “Mom, I’m bi!”, “Mom, I’m trans!”, or even…”Mom, I’m straight!” – I will love my kids and support them. Unconditionally.