Friday, March 27, 2009

An Email to Gov. Jim Douglas

I'm not feeling too eloquent this Friday morning. Nevertheless, there are too many things going on in my head to not write.

A few days ago, The Breadwinner mistook a post on a friend's Facebook about the same-sex marriage bill in Vermont passing through the state senate for it passing in general. We did a little dance before we realized what had actually happened. Since then, I have been checking Google news for "Vermont gay marriage bill" every few hours. I was heartbroken when I read that the governor would veto the bill if it got to him. No one knows whether it will pass if it has to come to an override of the veto. So, why does this affect me so much, sitting in my apartment in a small town in upstate New York?

It all feels so familiar. In the spring of 2004, I knew that I was moving to Massachusetts for college. I feverishly watched the judicial battle over same-sex marriage in Massachusetts while cities like New Paltz and San Francisco chose to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. I didn't really care what happened across the country due to gay-marriage fever. I cared about Massachusetts. I cared that I could get married where I would be living for the foreseeable future (at that point, I was certain I would never leave). My GSA advisor, unbeknownst to me at the time, was actively taking part in attempts to bring same-sex marriage to the forefront on Long Island. I couldn't have cared less. I was leaving and I had a sense that Long Island and New York State would never change. I knew I would never be back.

Five years later, I again find myself living in New York, knowing that soon I will move back to New England. I will live in Vermont as soon as possible. Again, we are told that oh, you know, New York might have a gay marriage bill up this spring... it'll probably happen by Schumer and Bloomberg. Granted, Schumer's change of heart is nice, I doubt it will lead to any actual change in New York. From where I'm sitting in the North Country, where teasing bangs is still fashionable and the check out lady at Hannaford doesn't know what to make of a same-sex couple simply buying groceries, I'm skeptical.

Yet, just across Lake Champlain--so close you can practically see it from here, I see hope. On Sunday, we went to Burlington's very small Friend's Meeting. During announcements, a sweet old lady stood up and began, "This might be the greatest announcement I ever get to share," and I assumed she was going to tell us that she was a grandmother. I was wrong. "This weekend, my partner and I were united in civil union." Later on, she also spoke about where the push for same-sex marriage in Vermont was the weakest, about calling reps and getting the word out. I sat in this small room, surrounded by the warmth of so many supportive people who asked questions about how to help and contributed their own ideas.

I have never stayed for Fellowship at any Meeting, but The Breadwinner and I stayed that day. We introduced ourselves, talked about what we are doing in Plattsburgh and how we hope to move to Burlington soon. Another woman saw us headed towards the door and turned to the person she was speaking to, saying, "I'll be right back, I need to talk to them before they go." She welcomed us to Meeting and was very kind. She took a few minutes to get to her point, but did say it outright, "Here, I don't think anyone could care if you're gay or straight, everyone is welcome here. Please do come back." The fact that this woman went out of her way to make sure we knew we were wanted at this Meeting made me nod my head and say, "We need to live here." Of course, in Northampton, there were so many queer families at Meeting, no one thought it necessary to say that sort of thing. But it means more coming from someone outside of the queer community, in a setting where there are queer people but we are by no means a force to be reckoned with.

I knew in 2004 that I wanted to move to Massachusetts. I cried and cheered when gay marriage became legal. Now, I know that I could always live in Massachusetts, but I think the small state atmosphere of Vermont is pulling me in. In pictures of Vermonters crying in the state house, I recognize someone I went to the drag ball in Burlington with. At the co-op on a Sunday morning, I can see people who were spandex clad at the queer super hero dance party the night before. I can see queer families, hockey players, and rock climbers. I can see the mountains and the lake. I know this is where I want to get married and raise a family. So, while I am still not one of your constituents, I ask as a future Vermonter, please don't veto this bill, Mr. Governor.

The Breadmaker

(Yeah, I actually sent as much as I could--given the character limit--to the governor.)

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