Friday, September 17, 2004

Picking a Fight at the Fair

My family and I went to the Utah State Fair last night and had a wonderful time. We browsed through the craft displays, chili cook-offs, and numerous vendors of every shape and size imaginable. We enjoyed corn dogs and Navajo Tacos and caramel apples and fry bread and each other’s company. Sarah brought her friend Jessica, so they ran off to the rides while Lindi and I continued to visit the different booths. As we walked by one booth for “The Living Scriptures” (which there seemed to be on every aisle), a nice, clean cut LDS boy asked me if I wanted a free copy of their DVD. I calmly turned to him and politely replied, “No, thank you. I am Wiccan.” His face dropped and we walked on. When we were a safe distance, Lindi burst out into laughter. We both secretly loved the tremors we left behind.

As we were wandering down one of the side corridors, we ran across a booth with large, red signs proclaiming “Vote YES to Amendment #3! Protect Our Families!” These were people who were for a Utah Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman and stripping away any legal rights of same sex couples. I walked by, stopped for a second, looked at their propaganda, and walked on.

Lindi asked me why I stopped. I told her it was always good to see the literature of the enemy, to get an idea of what they are telling people. But as we walked on, I felt angrier and angrier. Where was the “Don’t Amend” booth? Where was the ACLU? Where was anyone who represented me?

It then dawned on me – I was there. I represented me. The Calvary had arrived.

I turned to my wife and asked her if we could go back. Hesitant, she asked me why. I told her I wanted to pick a fight. She relented and told me she was right behind me.

I walked to the booth and approached a gentleman who asked me if I was a registered voter who had heard about the Amendment. I said yes, of course. He started his schpeal about it, completely oblivious to the fact that I was a lesbian, since Lindi had stood back to give me room.

I asked him why it was necessary to change our Constitution when there were already three law passed in the last 30 years prohibiting same sex marriage. He did a double take and said they want to clarify the issue. I asked him what needed to be clarified. He stated that marriage was between a man and a woman. I nodded and agreed, I told him that was what the law already and asked, why change the Constitution?

He began some story about California and how people were claiming to be Domestic Partners to gain benefits when they really weren’t. I replied, “Oh, much like people who marry to gain benefits, but it’s allowed.” He blinked. I continued, “Doesn’t California require a Domestic Partner registry now? So, that problem is solved.”

Blink, blink.

“What you fail to understand is that this Amendment affects me. I am a lesbian. I have a partner. I have a 15-year-old child. This mission by you and The Eagle Forum and Gayle Ruzika is attacking my family and me personally.

“The fact is, this Constitution Amendment is poorly written and is pointedly written to take away any rights of any same sex couples that already exist. As it is now, some companies offer benefits to same sex couples, which would allow me the right to be a stay at home parent to raise my child if I want to. You are telling me, as a mother, I don’t have the right to do that, to raise my child the way I want to, by forcing my partner’s employer to deny benefits.

“I am a single taxpaying adult, but you are telling me I shouldn’t have the tax burden of a married spouse. Why? I share the household finances and burden the same as if I were legally married.

“Pardon my assumption, but you are probably straight, married and have children. My question to you is this: how does this effect you one way or another? If it passes or if it doesn’t, you are still married. You are still protected. You have nothing to lose. This effects ME, not you. This effects MY civil liberties, not yours. One way or another, you can sleep at night in the comfort of your rights, while I have to fight to see my partner in the hospital.

“I have committed my life to my partner (At this point, Lindi walked up next to me) and our family is not going away. You and your group are telling me the years of work I put into my union and the raising of my child are worth nothing in the eyes of the State of Utah. Shame on you.

“This Amendment is wrong. I think in your heart you know that. When you are voting and think of this amendment, I want you to think of my family and me and then I want you to think of all the other “me”s and their families in Utah, because there are a lot. Remember, we’re the ones who will be effected by your decisions, not you.”

I am sure my point was made, as he nodded and shook my hand, although I am certain I didn’t change his mind. But oh, the opportunity to do so made me feel better. Lindi told me while I was raging with one volunteer, another was behind me trying to hand out fliers. He walked up to a woman and asked her about the Amendment. She said, “I think it sucks. I think everyone should have the right to choose,” and walked away. Lindi turned around and said, “Thank you.” She smiled back and said, “You are welcome.”

Lindi told me I won the argument. I think so, too. But more than that, I put a face with the issue, which has always been my goal.

Plus, I’ve always loved to pick a fight!


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