While trying to fall asleep tonight, my husband Alex already fast asleep next to me, our dog at our feet, I scanned my feed on Facebook. After reading several news updates about the four to five fatal shootings today in Indianapolis, I found post after post about how Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, in a last ditch effort to save his agenda, moved the proposed ban to another committee, where it will be heard on Wednesday. Interestingly enough, you sent me a message earlier in the day stating:
Peter, I need your help! I am on the list to possibly testify in front of a house committee for HJR-3. They haven't picked me yet, but they are going to ask about any stories I know of people who are married or what not...stories of discrimination or loss they may feel. I was just wondering if you have anything you want to tell me.
Well, Annie, since you asked, and I'm happy that you did, this is how I feel.
Before starting, let me explain a typical day in my life. My husband, Alex, wakes up and takes the dogs out before leaving for work. He always wakes me up, and kisses me goodbye. This is something we started long ago, always kissing as we say goodbye, because we never know if it will be the last time we see each other. We don't have the same luxuries as some couples. He goes to work, and I usually go back to sleep for a few hours. I get up, clean the kitchen and get ready for work. Alex and I run a business together, outside of our "normal" jobs, so by the time I wake up, he has usually already emailed me or texted me several tasks needing completion.
After doing these things, I leave for work, always stopping by Starbucks on the way. The barista I usually see at Starbucks typically asks me: "How are you guys?" I go to work and meet with my clients. In discussing relationship problems, I share similar issues Alex and I have had, and how we have worked through these relationship issues. None of my clients have any difficulty comparing their heterosexual marriages to the same details of my marriage. It is all the same. After work, I call Alex and we either meet for dinner, or I attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, having been sober for 19 years. Sometimes, like tonight, he goes to his mother's house for dinner, and I go out to eat with friends. Sometimes we go see a movie or catch up on our television shows. Most nights at home are the same; we get ready for bed, turn on the fan and humidifier, set the alarms and show each other funny things we find on our phones, forever addicted to social media. Tonight we discussed an upcoming trip to Miami and Alex's haircut. We discussed what he had for dinner and planned a date for this weekend. He gave me a kiss goodnight and he turned off his light. This is a typical day in our lives, Monday through Friday.
You ask in what ways do I feel I am being discriminated against, or in what ways do I feel loss? When you compare my day to any other husband or wife in the state of Indiana, I would say I don't deal with much daily discrimination for being gay, other than the random "faggot," comment at the gas station. But it sure does feel different when you ask me how I feel about 13 committee members making a decision for my life who have never even met me. It feels a little bit like a jury vote on a murder trial, and I didn't even commit a crime. I'm not going to sit and discuss politics and the process of election, because that's not what you asked. You asked me how I feel discriminated against.
Well, Annie, it amazes me that the barista at Starbucks has more courtesy than most of the people sitting on these committees to actually ask me how "we're" doing. It amazes me that after 19 years, clean and sober, positively contributing to the community of Indianapolis and, as an addictions counselor, having helped save the lives of the children of several prominent families in Indianapolis, that I am treated less than an 18-year-old, meth addicted girl who has addicted children and lives off of financial assistance, but I am a poorer role model to the community because I want to marry the "person" I love. She has the legal right to get married, but I do not. That's pretty degrading. That doesn't sound like I'm wanted very much in the state of Indiana, does it?
How does it feel? While I'm reading this article about this person, Bosma, who I don't even know, who's making decision about my life, it feels like I'm hundreds and hundreds of miles away, and I have no affect on the outcome. Do you know why we kiss before we say goodbye? Because we know that if we're hospitalized, we don't have visiting rights unless our families allow it. We don't have funeral rights or financial rights.
We have no rights as a couple.
And the really sad part is that all I want to do is protect the person I love the most. After all, isn't that what love is all about? I just want to grow old with the person I love, and know that we can protect each other and our home for the rest of our lives. But apparently, that's terrifying to some of these people.
Do you realize that we can't get a family gym membership together? Or both be family members at most animal hospitals for our pets? We don't file taxes together, and we can't be on the same mortgage, except as co-borrowers? We can't travel together as family members. We can't build credit together as a couple. We can't share a last name unless we go through rigorous legal action. These are just a few examples, but to us, they make a difference.
Interestingly enough, Crate & Barrel, Target and Macy's had no problem allowing us to register for our wedding.
And as far as this committee hearing, well, they're going to do what they want anyway, right? Reading comments from me about how I love my husband, and that they should respect my feelings isn't going to change anything. But the times, they are a' changin, and they can either change with them or become obsolete. They might possibly be signing their resignations without even realizing it.
I haven't met these people. And I don't care to meet these people. I don't want to know their politics, and I don't want to know their religion. Quite frankly, I don't want to know anyone who will look back on their life and have one of their proudest, resounding moments being their passing a ban to keep a loving couple apart. That's not discrimination; that's sick. And why are we more concerned with stopping the marriage of two men or two women than preventing the plethora of daily shootings in our state? What is wrong with this picture?
We were married August 25th, 2011. After getting married, we got a lot of flack from people in the gay community that we weren't willing to wait for a state ruling on same-sex marriage. This is exactly why we refused to wait. Because, to us, anyone can have a wedding, but not everyone can have a marriage.
We have a marriage.
Of all of the times in my entire life that I have been called names, beaten and degraded, and there are have been thousands, justifying my right for marriage is the most degrading and discriminating thing that has ever happened in my life. The state of Indiana should be ashamed for not being part of the upward movement in our country. This is a proud moment for, not only the United States, but the world. Indiana can be with it, or against it.
When I was younger, and called derogatory names, my mother would tell me: "When you walk down the street, hold your head up high and refuse to be a victim of their oppression." Today I hold my head up high. And so, after all, I haven't lost anything. It is the State of Indiana that will have lost. Time will roll on, and gay marriage will be accepted in every state in this nation; of that I am sure. Any historian will tell you that history repeats itself, and we are on the precipice of one of the biggest civil and human rights moments in history. What have we learned from our past? The question is simply: Do you want to drive against the grain or float with the river?
I think I'll choose to hang out on the raft with my husband.
This post originally appeared on Peter And Alex's website.