Sunday, October 10, 2004

Gay Ghost Towns

On November 2 my beloved Arkansas will have the chance to violently choke-hold the legality of gay marriage and slam the door on any civil rights for gay couples living there. The Arkansas Surpreme Court has made the decision to allow the broad language of the Arkansas Marriage Amendment to stand.

The amendment is almost certain to pass. I'm angry and sad about it, but mostly sad. I tried to figure out a light-hearted and fun way to write about this, but I can't. My home state, where all of my family and many of my friends, who are like family, live is likely to decide that John and I are not worthy of the same rights that non-gay couples are.

I've told my parents that if the amendment passes John and I will come home this Christmas, but after that we won't be visiting Arkansas. I don't know how long we will be able to live in Indiana either. John and I can leave here, sadly putting him in the same position with his home state and family as I will be with mine.

But neither of us feels like there is much choice in the matter. Until people begin to realize just how important this issue is to the productive members of society it affects, no one will really understand how devestating this situation is. Leaving for states where the taxes we pay go toward supporting the families we have is not just my idea, and frankly, Charles Bouley over at the Advocate says it better and with as much passion as I ever could.

"It’s time for a new tactic. How about emptying out those nice, newly gentrified neighborhoods, depriving these communities of our property taxes for schools that most of us will never utilize for our children? How about watching fine restaurants close because they can’t get good help, good management, good chefs, or a steady clientele since all the gays skipped town? How about leaving behind all those jobs and showing employers what running a business is like without our help? From administrative assistants to executives, from hairdressers to physicians—whatever the occupation, it’s time to hang our shingles in states that want us there. 

The change will come slowly, but it will happen. Right now it would mean that we’d all have to move to Massachusetts. I’ve lived there--not bad. But in California, come January 2005, I’ll have domestic-partnership benefits that are equal to Vermont’s civil unions, and that’s acceptable for now. So, California and Vermont are fine. In fact, Washington and New Jersey are fine too, because at least they’re trying. The other 45? Iffy at best. 

But why should you leave your home? Because your home state doesn’t want you, and it’s time to end the abusive, toxic relationship. Gays are the battered spouses of the states in which they live when that state refuses to recognize their right to love and marry whom they please and grant them equal benefits. "

I foresee a time in the not so distant future when this will be a reality for John and I. We can't fight this battle alone. We will desperately need the help of those of you who believe in us but who may not face the same issues we do. I don't even know what to tell you to do, but you can start by reminding people we exist. When you hear people make derogatory jokes or references to gay people, remind them that you know us. That we are your family and friends and that their bigotry, subtle as it may be, forces us to rearrange our lives.


Blogger MikeM said...

Troy -- There's nothing I can say to ease the pain of what you are saying, of course. But I will tell you a story: I remember hearing Prof. Cartwright from Boston University School of Theology standing in the chapel at Drew University Theological School when I was in seminary in the early 1980's. He told us about a trip that he had taken to South Africa just a few months before. While there he had visited with the grandson of Jan Smuts -- the architect of apartheid. Cartwright said to him that the grandson told him that apartheid would never change. He said that he recalled less than 20 years before, Gov. George Wallace standing in the doorway of the University of Alabama on television screens across the country proclaiming "Segregation Forever!" He went on to say that things can change in a hurry. The suggestion about abandoning places that are inhospitable seems consistent with Jesus advice to "shake the dust off your feet" if you aren't welcomed somewhere. Thank you for writing what you write. You are a wonder.

4:50 AM  
Blogger Troy said...

Thanks MikeM. You're right. Things can change fast. I probably ought to take a longer view. In the meantime, do you know any gay Moses who would be willing to lead our exodus from the oppressing states?

6:39 PM  

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