Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Waiting Game

On the evening of November 3rd, Emily and I had gone to the No on Prop 8 headquarters for an Election Day training. The sense of anticipation and nerves in the packed room told me I wasn't alone in feeling the momentousness of the occasion.

On the way home, as we ran into people and talked quietly about Prop 8's chances, I felt as though I were in Act IV of Shakespeare's "Henry V" -- the night before the big battle at Agincourt. The English are outnumbered 25 to 1 by the French, and each soldier knows he's unlikely to see the end of the following day. King Harry moves quietly through the camps to give them heart in a situation where the stakes are high and the odds bleak.

I came home and reread that section of the play, struck by how perfectly it captured the atmosphere surrounding me four centuries later. And praying that we'd play the part of the English, who defeated a formidable foe against all odds at the end of an exhausting campaign.

Unfortunately, our campaign played out differently.

~ ~ ~

Soon after Election Day, the legal challenges began, as we knew they would should Prop 8 pass. As I understand it, there are two main arguments to overturn the measure: 1) because marriage is a fundamental right, eliminating it for same-sex couples is too large a change to the California constitution to be passed by a simple majority; and 2) equal protection requires the court to protect the rights of a minority from the "tyranny of the majority." Also at issue, should Prop 8 stand, is the legal status of some 18,000 marriages that took place between June 17 (when the Supreme Court ruling went into effect) and November 4 (when 52.3% of voters saw "elimination of rights" on the ballot and chose "yes").

The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. This is good news. However, even with everything on a fast track, we probably won't know anything definitive for several months.

And so the waiting begins again.

~ ~ ~

Emily and I have gotten married three times now: a friends and family wedding in 2003, a legal wedding in 2004 at San Francisco City Hall, and a third "combo special" (ceremony + legal) in 2008. We even used "Third Time's the Charm" as our theme.

But with Prop 8 hanging over our heads, I haven't quite been able to settle into feeling married this time around. It was so painful when our 2004 marriage was forcibly voided that part of me has been steeling myself against it happening again.

To keep myself sane, I've been coming back to the reality that right now, we're still married. That bears repeating: in this moment, I'm married. That's pretty remarkable on multiple levels, not the least of which is that there's this awesome person who thinks I'm wonderful enough to share her life with me. But in the history of the LGBT movement, the fact we're married is absolutely stunning. No one can rob me of the joy of this moment without my consent.

The Prop 8 question is unlikely to find a clear answer until some time in the spring. This Thanksgiving Day, though, I realized that this enforced waiting is actually a blessing, because it means I get six months of luxuriating in the state of matrimony. I don't have to worry about my marriage being snatched away without warning. Steeling myself will just turn my core cold and hard -- instead, I'm taking the opportunity to practice being in the moment and living in gratitude.

"Thus may we gather honey from the weed and make a virtue of the devil himself."


I'm fascinated by what emerged in a word cloud of this piece, especially in the lower left (click to enlarge in a new window):

Wordle: The Waiting Game

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