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    They have their houses and their lawns

    Several days ago I received a wonderful e-mail from reader Leslie W. She gave me permission to post it:

    I wonder if gay guys have the same problem I do, being a lesbian who is amazed at how antagonistic literally every lesbian I know is about our not being let into a terribly boring party we’re so desperately trying to crash! I just don’t get this fixation on marriage as against civil unions. Though not religious in any institutional sense, I do respect the rights of traditionally religious people and do not see it as overarchingly “mean” for them to express the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I also don’t mind when people of that ilk assert that sex with someone of the same gender is sinful. Of course, I don’t think that–and I always tell such people that it’s OK to have that viewpoint but that they should check out Romans 2 before they ponder what punishment to inflict. But why should I be concerned with what they feel, much less with what they say? That is, unless what I’m really seeking is their absolute approval–cheap grace, you might say. If my rights as a citizen are genuinely threatened by a rightist religious agenda, I’ll be among the first to man the barricades. But I’m very tired of the false oppression that so many lesbians claim as their lot in life, and I’m extremely weary of the us-them dynamic that permeates my milieu surely as much as any other.

    Right. Just a dozen or so years ago, Bruce Bawer could write the following:

    Committed gay couples exist by the millions, and it is unquestionably in the state’s interest that homosexuals live in such couples rather than live alone and sleep around; why shouldn’t the state, then, recognize those relationships as it does heterosexual commitments? For the state to do so would not deny to anyone the right to consider his or her marriage morally superior to my domestic partnership–or, for that matter, to anyone else‘s heterosexual marriage.

    Note the lack of assumption that recognition of our relationships must call them marriages and, in every last finicking little respect, treat them as exactly THE SAME as straight relationships, lest some gay person’s self-esteem be dinged. When was the last time you heard a gay public figure talk that way? Now it’s all about enshrining our love for each other in state policy.

    BTW, Leslie, and anyone else, if you’re looking for sensible lesbian writing, check out Ace Pryhill. She supports marriage rather than civil unions, but I agree with her about big-picture issues of what legal recognition means and how it relates to individual responsibility.

    Oh, and while I’m on the subject of e-mails and policies, it appears that this is a good time to formulate…well, an e-mail policy. I think this post from a few months back should get the point across.

    6 Responses to “They have their houses and their lawns”

    1. Ace Pryhill says:

      Why thank you Sean. I must give you credit for the influence you had had on my thinking on the issue. While I still vascillate between believing it’s an social injustice to exclude gays, and on the other hand, believing we ought to demonstrate we deserve recognition before expecting it, before I opine on a story, I often ask myself, “What Would Sean Say,” or WWSS. ‘Cause it’s no fun to be called out on a logical inconsistency by Sean.

      You don’t know what a serious honor it is to be dubbed “sensible.” I have a friend, captain of the imaginary club called “Team Reasonable” and she she continues to deny me entry because I am under 30 and a lesbian (which automatically implies I am “wild & crazy”). This will show her!

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Thanks, Ace. Uh, even though you just called me a bitch, sort of. And of course I think you’re sensible; I don’t bother arguing with people who aren’t sensible. I’ve carefully weighed what you write and often been convinced by it, too. I mean, when I started out expecting to disagree.

      BTW, does your friend seriously think that lesbians are incapable of reason, or is it more that on the marriage issue in particular she figures you can’t be objective?

      (Oh, and Michael, sweetie, if you’re reading this–see how easy it is just to admit that I’m the arbiter of reason and be done with it?)

    3. Janis Gore says:

      No, not because Ace is lesbian, but because she’s under 30.

      What bozo trusts anyone under 30?

      (Says me, pushing this rock toward 49.)

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      I was lucky enough to grow up in one of those families in which the children were allowed to stay for at least part of the time when the conversation turned to current events and stuff. You had to be deferential toward the elders, of course, but you were allowed to participate and weren’t condescended to when you did. It was a great way to learn that there are younger people who are very together and older people who still don’t get it.

    5. Ace Pryhill says:

      But that’s bitch in the good way!

      And it’s not the lesbian thing – she’s actually one of our strongest supporters (she had the “Mrs. Pryhill” t-shirts made for us). She’s so comfortable with it that joking in such a way is allowed because she knows in reality our relationship is no more scandalous than her happy hetero marriage. It’s really the age thing that’s holding me back from membership. I argue that she should consider the average of Terra’s and my age – which happens to be 30 – as the indicator of eligibility. That I am in a relationship with someone 6 years my elder should vouch for my maturity. Or perhaps it says more about Terra’s lack thereof.

    6. Sean Kinsell says:

      You get to claim the couple’s average age? That would make Atsushi and me 35; I think he’d go for it. There’s a stretch between March and May when I’ve had a birthday and he hasn’t. He crows that I’m catching up to him, though of course, being a product of Japan’s math education system, he knows that’s just wishful thinking.

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