Friends and Strangers, read my piece about the recent struggles for gay couples to legitimize their marriages at Poetry Foundation's blog, Harriet:
This is a an imaginary diary of facts, confessions, or messages. This is a notebook of working but broken ideas, lines, images, notes on books I'm reading, writers I admire, and brief fantasies of language. Here unfiltered all mannerings pseudo-private, publicized, ur-. Here I am art and unrevealed: poetic, political and pop. These are my moonlit rough beginnings and should not be taken literally, directly, truthfully, reliably, and none of it is legally binding. These lies are all choreographed, but only haphazardly. Beware.
I'm celebrating today.
I'm mourning today.
My state, my country, elected a person of color, a figure of change and real hope for the future.
My state has failed to oppose the bigotry of Proposition 8, now making illegal some 18,000 gay marriages.
My President has spoken to me personally in his acceptance speech, inviting "gays and straights", naming us, including us in the national discussion. I was deeply moved, and if I had any doubts or misgivings, this small phrase made him my friend. I found myself wanting to follow him, wanting to fight for a better country, wanting to believe in him.
I believe in him.
Today in California, my own gay married friends are now burdened by the fact that the great draws in voting by people of color, my people, who have come out to vote in historic numbers, have also come out to vote against us with Prop. 8.
There was a great rally downtown for those supporters of Prop. 8 last weekend that I found particularly offensive. All people of color. Of which I am one. My people. Latin American, Mexican, Korean, Chinese, African American. Signs in other languages. Crosses. A united front against gay marriage. Against equality. Against me. Their signs read: "A vote for Prop.8 equals freedom for marriage." But they cannot disown me.
The African American organizer for Prop. 8 said last night on television that Black voters want to preserve the family for children to have a mommy and a daddy.
If we want to protect children, why are we bringing them to hate rallies? Why are we having them stand on street corners screaming for Prop. 8? It's obscene. What exactly are we protecting? Those who support Prop. 8 are not motivated by mathematics, logic, empathy, and certainly not love, especially considering the divorce rates in this country:
Prop. 8 is fanatical and filled with prejudice. Why trust gay men and women to cut your hair, write your television shows, do your banking, file your taxwork, drive your buses, serve as your councilmen, your senator woman, operate on your bodies, teach your children, write up your life insurance policies, pay taxes, bag your groceries, pour your coffees, sell you clothing, defend your legal cases, act as your shrink, and in my case, serve as your literature professor, why trust us to have civic responsibilities, to perform and participate in business, government, religious life, the arts, education. . . and then tell us that you don't believe we should be able to marry. Why wouldn't you trust us to believe in love, to choose for ourselves who to make lifelong commitments to, to pursue the sacred endeavors of a spiritual pursuit with another person, to make for ourselves family, to have a ceremony and to have legal rights that endorse that ceremony?
Friends and Strangers, what, really, would be so bad if you and your family were invited to my wedding to celebrate with me, to share in my happiness for a moment? What would be so wrong with fostering this joy and human friendship?
Come break bread with us. We'll eat cake. We'll get drunk for love. There'll be a D.J.
It will be a celebration, but not today.
Today we have to think about what to tell the children of 18,000 gay marriages in this state. What should we say, that we believe their family is a lie, that it does not exist? Do we tell them their parents of 5 years, 15 years, 27 years, 30 even 40 years of partnership are null, void, illegal? Is this our "civic" duty? It is a profoundly sad day. When our humanity is denied by our friends, family, country men and women.
Separate is NOT equal.
Haven't we learned anything from the Civil Rights movement?
People of Color, in my California, why do you H8?
. . . . . . . .
""If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
My work has been awarded the Katherine C. Turner Prize from the Academy of American Poets, a Swarthout Award, and has twice been nominated and shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize. My first book, A Book Called Rats, was selected for the Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry (Eastern Washington University Press 2007). I'm curating editor for the online journal of poetry: PISTOLA and my poems and reviews most recently appear in Massachusetts Review, Beloit, Ploughshares and RAIN TAXI. I currently teach writing and literature at Santa Monica College in southern California.
FRIENDS AND STRANGERS
- ▼ 2008 (28)
- ► 2007 (40)