Dear Maggie Gallagher: Exactly Why Is my "Same Sex Union" not a Marriage?

"The first question for me is: Are same-sex unions 'marriages'? I'm against discrimination, I'm against hatred, I'm in favor of marriage equality, but I don't think same-sex marriage is marriage. Therefore I think it is wrong for the government to insist, through the use of law, that we all believe that same-sex unions are marriages."

- Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization For Marriage, speaking at a debate at the University of Colorado.

Gallagher is the public face of the anti-marriage equality crowd, and was until Carrie Prejean showed up to give the movement a supermodel sheen, until she turned out to be a solo-sexual performance artist. Now Gallagher has resumed the mantle, with the face of an enraged hobbit.

I am currently, and for eternity, involved in a said "same-sex union," for 22 years and counting. Soon we will finally get legally married in Connecticut, or somewhere, before Gallagher attempts to destroy it. Later this year we will have a ceremony celebrating our marriage. We were going to do it last year, but it was either that or remodel the bathroom. The bathroom won. Perhaps had we had the ceremony and registered at Home Depot we could have redone it ourselves.

For 22 years, my partner and I have lived together, eaten together, slept together, vacationed together, raised cats together, attended family weddings and funerals together, put dad in the nursing home together, and even had occasional same-sex sex. We committed to each other for life 20 years ago, just like slaves did before they could get married. Aside from occasional spats, we've never had a fight.

We are the beneficiaries in each other's wills and share insurance policies. The corporate world gets it and I'm included in his work health insurance (if it were up to Gallagher, I wouldn't be), and whenever I refer to him as my partner to the telephone company or anyone else, they know what I mean and don't care.

All of our friends and family speak of us and "Jim and Dan," like one unit. My Christian parents welcomed Dan into the family long ago. They love him and wish I were as polite as he and didn't have such a big mouth.

Oh, yeah - we've never even thought about splitting up. That makes us different from both of my divorced sisters and numerous divorced cousins. And yet, we're the ones considered a "threat to the family."

Gallagher's problem, as well as others who use Bible-based bigotry to oppose marriage equality, is that she just doesn't consider our relationship "marriage," because, well, she just doesn't. She will blather ad infinitum about history, children, God, Genesis, "building blocks of society," "sacred institutions" and such, but basically she, and the pathetic witnesses called for the defense in the Proposition 8 Federal Trial, think that well, um, marriage is just between a man and a woman and that's the way it's always been and...there you have it.

Marriage is only a sacred institution if you decide it is. I can get married tomorrow to some cracked out skank I met at a Vegas strip club at 3 AM, and an Elvis impersonator could officiate. That's only sacred if you're Britney Spears.

Many also use the "slippery slope" argument, implying that marriage equality would force America to recognize relationships between polygamists, people and their siblings and pet owners and their pets, as if they're all lining up demanding equality. If you're a polygamist, you're a fringe fundamentalist Mormon somewhere in Southern Utah. If you want to marry your sister, you're a snaggle-toothed hick from Alabama. If you want to marry your pet, you spend too much time at Petco.

Gallagher also lies when she implies that she supports any kind of "equality," because she doesn't support any legal recognition of same-sex unions whatsoever, including the measly domestic partnership we have in New York City, which entitles me to visit him when he's in prison, and that's about it. As far as "discrimination," she's all for it. She discriminates every time she opens her mouth.

Yes, the voters have rejected marriage equality in almost every instance it has been put to a ballot. But I would bet a year's salary that they would have probably rejected civil rights, the rights of women, and interracial marriage as well. That's what fear does, and the right wing is genius at exploiting fear. That's why the courts are supposed to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority, I thought.

And no, my partner and I cannot procreate and create children. Good thing, because neither of us can stand them. But if we did adopt, we'd be a hell of a lot better parents than the drug addicted couple down the hall whose kids are delinquent banshees due to years of neglect. Or maybe they just became bad parents because our same-sex union rubbed off on them, eroding their marriage.

Look, if my partner and I ultimately can't have federal recognition of our marriage, we'll live. But, as a law-abiding taxpayer, I'd like to have equal rights and privileges for taking care of the loveable son of a bitch for years and keeping both of us off the streets. I thought that's what "marriage" was supposed to reward.

I cannot for the life of me figure out how the "pro-family" people don't realize, or just don't care about, all the damage they actually do to families with gay people in them. It is lethal, and has done infinitely more damage than any gay equality would. No wonder some of those poor kids go insane. I am one of the lucky ones. My family is unscathed by these nuts. Others are not so lucky, and all the suicides, bashings, murders and other unfortunate incidents are on the record.

Except for the legal piece of paper, my partner and I are a marriage in every possible way. So tell me, Maggie, exactly how are we not?

She would probably answer, "Well, Jim, you're just not."