Better than Equal

The conservatives and I have something in common. I know that’s a shocker, and you will be even more shocked when you find out what it is.

I’m not for marriage equality.

Now, once all of you have pulled yourselves off the ceiling, I will explain. I’ll give you a minute.

OK. Here we go.

Let me start by saying that I fully believe my queer sisters and brothers should be allowed to marry. I want them to be able to adopt, to live their lives, to die with dignity, and leave an estate for their partners and children. I want them to be able to visit each other in the hospital and have legal say in each other’s lives. I want them to have the right to a legal divorce, should it come to it, and all the protections the legal system offers in the case of child custody and visitation.

But, I don’t want marriage equality. And here is why.

I don’t think that anyone – gay, straight, poly, mono, or whatever – should aspire to the current state of marriage. This is where the conservatives and I agree… sort of. I think the current structure and expectation of marriage is broken.

This June, the Husband and I will celebrate 14 years of marriage. This is an amazing number to me. It’s nearly half my life. I am a stay at home mom, and I love every minute of it. I do almost all the cooking and cleaning and ferrying of children… in short, on the outside, we have a very traditional marriage. But the expectation that it will end in divorce is still there. People still ask me “What will you do when he leaves you?” People seem to expect it to break, to end badly, to crash and burn. And that’s before they find out we are poly. When they find that out, then we are told that there is absolutely no way we will make a long-term thing of it. That the jealousy will eat our marriage like a cancer, or that one of us will find a partner we like better.

If you look at any bridal magazine, any “Say Yes to the Dress” episode, you see the bride, glorified. The wedding must be perfect, and pricey, or the marriage is doomed. No one goes on to say that the wedding is the smallest part of the biggest picture. That building a life and a family is the hardest thing you will do with your life. That learning to live with someone is tough work, and filing off the rough edges of both personalities involved sometimes really hurts. No one says that sometimes, despite your best go of it, it ends, and you have to put your life back together again. No one tells you that your perfect person can’t always meet every one of your needs, and you need to find a way to work through that. The expectation is, too often, that the one person will be your everything. And that is a lot to ask of one person.

But, the “happily ever after” ending leaves out the good stuff, too. Making a home together, wandering IKEA looking for the perfect things for your nest. The pile of kids and cats in your bed on a Saturday morning. Carving pumpkins together. Watching sunsets while hiking. Drinking coffee on a chilly coastal morning, watching the waves. Seeing your daughter earn her first medal, cheering as your son makes his first goal. It really is true that the tough times make the good times even sweeter.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m not asking for marriage equality. I’m asking for something better. Whatever the structure of your family, I’m asking for something more true, more honest, more real. I’m asking for genuine, committed partnerships and families. I’m asking for more love and less glitz, more truth and less fantasy.

And I genuinely hope that my queer brothers and sisters get the chance to make it work. They have fought long and hard for their love the be legitimized, and they have earned the chance to try.

PS – Happy Valentines Day. I’m spending a quiet day at home with Husband and the kids. In a truly romantic fashion, we have an appointment with our accountant to get our taxes done. I will see my other partners over the weekend and next week. We don’t make a big deal of V-Day in this family. But, here in the state of Oregon, there is some very important happenings going on in the fight for marriage equality. If you are an Oregon resident, I ask that you consider signing the petition to get equality on the 2014 ballot. Thank you.

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