We Are Family | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

We Are Family

A few weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Proposition 8, the California law banning same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act, the law Congress passed in 1996 that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. As public opinion on the issue of "gay marriage" swiftly moves toward the belief that it is a civil right rather than a "special" right, we are witnessing the long arc of history bend toward justice--literally.

I have been scouring the blogosphere for a meaningful breakdown of how the justices might rule, and I've read every op-ed I could find. Opinions range from cautiously optimistic to spiking the ball in the end zone. I find no comfort in putting my dream for equality in the hands of nine strangers.

But no matter what we learn in June, the fact is that DOMA and Prop 8 are unconstitutional. There's a schism that doesn't seem to fall along party lines. The divide is real, but shrinking. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll shows that the majority of Americans support same-sex marriage-- and a whopping 81 percent of voters under 30 support it.

Who are the standouts when it comes to opposing marriage equality? Older, white evangelicals who still believe in the "Ozzie and Harriet" family model. These believers in traditional marriage cling to a Norman Rockwell image of life with a generous sprinkling of scripture.

The reality is that we are in a bitter fight about what "family" means.

The opposition to marriage equality seems to have stopped trying to paint us as sexual deviants. In doing so, they painted themselves into the proverbial corner with the argument that marriage is about procreation. Now, putting aside the fact that not all heterosexual couples will or can spawn offspring, the shocking reality is that gays and lesbians can procreate. That's right: If my partner Justin and I wanted to make a baby, there is a way to do that. Sure, it's a costly endeavor that involves a surrogate and an attorney, but it can be done.

The last presumed stronghold--the "threat to the American family"--proves to be nothing more than messaging, and that leads to the irrefutable truth that the sole intent of drafting, passing and signing DOMA and Prop 8 into law is to pass moral judgment on gays and lesbians.

Nate Silver, the statistician who correctly predicted the outcome of last year's presidential election, recently applied his witchcraft to the topic of marriage equality. It's his estimation that Mississippi will likely be the last state to approve same-sex marriage, and the best guess is that it will be in 2030, when I'm 63. Now, I'm not saying that's old; I'm saying I don't want to wait that long.

As Justice Kennedy opined, there's no shortage of "politicians falling over themselves" to evolve on the subject. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove penned an op-ed revealing his disapproval of our states amendment to ban gay couples from joint adoptions and his belief that gays and lesbians should have the right to marry. Sadly, former Gov. Haley Barbour, who signed our same-sex marriage ban into law, chooses to side with the 81 percent of Mississippians who were against same-sex marriage 10 years ago.

It's hard to believe that in that time, Barbour has seen no examples of same-sex loving families that could benefit from a legally binding marriage.

Would that Mr. Barbour's "world view" include the understanding that religious convictions should not be forced onto others by a voter referendum.

Same-sex couples can partner and "play house," but we can't be recognized as families. We can sire offspring or adopt jointly, in some states, but we can't count on the state and federal laws that strengthen "normal" families. We are not welcome to pose for our own version of Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving meal. We are not real.

But the Williams Institute found that Mississippi has more same-sex parents per capita in 2010 than any other state in the nation--families that need the benefits and protections our state and federal governments provide to heterosexual parents.

If strengthening families is a true conservative belief, then don't our families deserve the same benefits and protections as everyone else's family?

The Supreme Court has stepped in and corrected wrongs in the past. Certainly, this would be such a time. Now that most of America appears ready to accept that kind of intervention, it seems to me to be the best course of action. If DOMA passed, as the record shows, with the intent to pass moral judgment on homosexuals, then its not much of a stretch to say that every state that has banned same-sex marriage did so with the same intent.

That's just my humble opinion, but my better half agrees. And we are family.

Eddie Outlaw is co-owner of the William Wallace Salon in Fondren. He spends most of his time trying not to embarrass his sweet Delta mother on eddieoutlaw.com.

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