John and Jim: An Update

This is why it matters.

James Obergefell has lived with the love of his life for 20 years before they married two weeks ago.

They also hoped to be buried next to each other, to spend eternity together, but the state of Ohio and his spouse’s relatives won’t let him – because he married another man, John Arthur.

Last week, the two men sued Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Cincinnati doctor responsible for approving death certificates. Obergefell and Arthur asked a judge to overturn existing Ohio law – which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage – to allow Obergefell to be listed as surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate and for it to show that Arthur’s marital status at death as married.

The most beautiful wedding you never attended…was not going to be recognized by the state of Ohio. Which meant that John, who is actively dying, was not going to be allowed to be buried next to Jim, his spouse, his partner of 20 years.

“We’ve been beside each other for 20 years. We deserve to be beside each other in perpetuity,” Obergefell testified Monday.

Arthur has ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that has no known cure and is fatal, and is “days maybe weeks if we are lucky” from death, Obergefell testified.

“What he wants is to die knowing that I am legally taken care for and recognized as his spouse,” Obergefell said of Arthur, both 47.

The bad news is, the court’s injunction is limited to this particular case and these two individuals. The good news is, even Cincinnati doesn’t expect that to remain the case:

Aaron Herzig, an attorney for the city, said the city doesn’t oppose the request by Obergefell and Arthur. The city named July 11, the day the two men were married in Maryland, as James Obergefell and John Arthur Day in Cincinnati.

The Wedding Of John And Jim

This is the story of John and Jim;
Jim loves John, and John loves him;
Twenty years, six months, and eleven days
Already married in many ways,
They finally got to say their vows
With every right the law allows

Just watch the story—don’t ask why…
And I fucking dare you not to cry.

I don’t always cry at weddings. The last wedding I went to, my nephew’s, I bawled like a baby–but that’s because this was my nephew, and every detail was perfect, and I just love him to death.

I don’t know Jim or John. Never heard of them before about an hour ago. But thanks to the internets, I cried at their wedding, too. It was another perfect day:

John Arthur’s been a patient of Crossroads since March, but it wasn’t until June 26 that he settled on his notion of a perfect day. That morning the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. As he watched the announcement from a medical bed in his Over-the-Rhine condo, Arthur and his partner of 20 years, Jim Obergefell, decided that they wanted to marry.

A wedding for the couple would not be easy. Because same-sex marriage is illegal in Ohio, and because the Supreme Court ruling left marriage bans at the state level intact, Arthur and Obergefell couldn’t marry here. The prospect of travel was difficult because Arthur is bedridden with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neurological disease that robs patients of their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe. Within minutes of the Supreme Court decision, the couple started working the phones, email and social media to figure out how they might legally wed.

The full story is well worth reading, and it is a tear-jerker. I was going to write and tell you about it even before I saw the video.

But, oh. Watch the video (I’ll embed it just below, and if that isn’t working, it can be viewed at the link). It takes a while, but it’s just so beautiful. Yes, I cried. You will, too. I can only hope (vainly, I suspect) that Ohio will soon (sadly, they don’t have much time) allow them to renew their vows in the state they fell in love in, and did not want to leave.

(ok, it’s embedded below the fold–the video is on autoplay, and I don’t know how to fix that, so be aware before you click through. It’s still very much worth your time, though Ok, I’ve deleted the video until such time as I am able to embed it without autoplay. Again, here’s the link to the video, and you do want to watch the video!.)

Anyway… Here’s to John and Jim, or Jim and John, husband and husband. Congratulations!

Someone Kiss The Bride For Me!

So I just got back (never announce your departures–it’s like leaving a “rob my house” sign on your door) from many days of driving, smiling, lifting, hauling, driving, shivering, waiting, driving, greeting, hugging, driving, and driving. With very little chance to check email (students who did not come to class for the last half of the semester are now wondering what they can do to make up for it), let alone check comments here. But now that I have, I am glad I did. Any less-happy weekend, and the comment on this post would have been in the position of making up for the whole weekend. And it likely would have. But this was a great weekend, so the comment was only like the third or fourth most happy-making thing.

The comment notes that

My sister asked our niece to read this at her wedding today. It was paired with “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Lear (read by the bride’s mother).

Thank you for this wonderful poem!

I have no idea where this wedding was, nor who the bride and groom were, but if any of you know, congratulate them for me and (only with consent) kiss the bride for me. She clearly has spectacular taste in poetry (Lear, I mean–plus, she chose mine!)

So, for those of you who didn’t click through, It was the Evolutionary Biology Valentine’s Day Poem (one of the few of my own poems I know by heart and can and will recite):

In sociobiology,
Why I love you and you love me—
Which anyone can plainly see—
Is mostly in our genes.
No, not the ones you buy in stores,
But what a scientist explores–
I like the way you look in yours,
And you know what that means.

What subtly-coded stimulus
Takes you and me, and makes us “us
And makes us feel ‘twas ever thus?
The list of suspects narrows.
No longer are we all a-shiver
From some Cupid with a quiver
Out of which he might deliver
Fusillades of Eros.

Nor Dopamine, nor Serotonin
Tell us why our hearts are moanin’
Though they serve to help us hone in
On–not why, but how;
The parasympathetic blush,
Adrenaline to bring a rush,
Are how, not why, I’ve got a crush
On you, my darling, now.

But if old Charles Darwin’s right,
The reason that the merest sight
Of you will always give delight
Is…reproductive fitness.
Throughout our species’ family tree,
Producing proper progeny
Is what determined you and me
And Darwin was the witness.

Is thinking that you’re oh so sweet
And how you’ll make my life complete
Some trick to make our gametes meet?
It seems it may be so.
I feel the way I feel today
Because some bit of DNA
Sees your genetics on display
And wants to say “hello.”

But think of this, for what it’s worth:
Millennia before my birth
That DNA had roamed the earth,
In residents thereof;
The neat thing is, it’s really true,
The feeling that I have for you
Although, of course, it feels brand-new
Is truly ageless love.

Congratulations!

Marriage Week: Sanctity

The date: January 1, 2008. The place: New Hampshire. The scene: Politicians everywhere, vying with one another to succeed George the Lesser. Staking out positions to appeal to their party’s faithful, demonizing their opponents, in their own and in the other party. Parties, I should say–NH gets all the fringe candidates as well. NH voters are extraordinarily privileged; some think it perfectly reasonable not to vote for a candidate purely because they have not yet met them in person, shaken their hand, had a photo taken (collect them all! In NH, you can!) with them. And the politicians oblige. So they are everywhere, and they are doing their best to stand apart from their peers.

And in the middle of this clamor, in the middle of the night, at the stroke of midnight, as the new year began, something changed…

I had insufficient warning
When I stumbled out this morning
Past a half a dozen candidates, each stumping for my vote;
When I looked, the morning paper
Had a headline of some caper
Or the record-breaking snowfall—really, nothing there of note.

So I grabbed my trusty shovel
To plow out my “home sweet hovel”
When I noticed something different—something didn’t quite feel right.
There was snow, and politicians,
But some change in the conditions
Made me wonder if my marriage had the sanctity it might.

So I checked the sanctitometer
And struggled not to vomit—her
“Conventional morality in danger” light was on!
Now a grim new dawn was breaking
And I couldn’t stop my shaking
‘Cos the morally upstanding world I trusted now was gone!

I considered seeking shelter
As I watched the helter-skelter
Of the politicians canvassing the noble Granite State;
I heard one of them disparage
Civil Unions, or Gay Marriage
As the reason for the panic—then I thought, more clearly, “wait!”

All this rattling of sabers
Is about my friends and neighbors;
These are people whom I know, and who have lived here all along
If these folks are who they’re blaming
It’s just pre-election gaming
And between the politicians and my friends, I know who’s wrong.

If our morals are declining
As the candidates keep whining
I propose a different theory to explain why this is so:
An invasive mass of liars
With their speeches, signs, and flyers,
Slinging mud and kissing babies in a dog-and-pony show.

Soon the voting will be over
And the state, from Keene to Dover,
And from Lancaster to Nashua, will heave a weary sigh;
With the moral issue buried
Now my neighbors can get married
And the Granite State will mean it when it says “Live Free or Die!”

As you well know, since that time NH no longer has civil unions. Now, NH has marriage. Well done.

Marriage Week: Bliss

As Marriage Week continues, I look back at June of 2011, watching the New York Senate vote. And butcher a Billy Joel song.

(I have the New York Senate live stream up on another window, and this song insinuated itself on my brain. I’m posting it before the vote–NY, you’d better do the right thing, or this post won’t make any sense!)

Some folks want the right to bake
Just a wedding cake for a wedding night
Groom and groom standing side by side
Or a bride and bride
As they wait for the notice
And their newly wedded kiss
I’m in a New York state of bliss

I’ve seen all of the politics
Of the little tricks and the grand debate
Been watching the senate in the Empire state
Had my own expectations
But I never hoped for this
I’m in a New York state of bliss

It was so different, living day by day
Out of luck, and the bigots bring the blues
But now I see a little give and take
In The New York Times, The Daily News

It comes down to reality
And it’s fine with me, ‘cause it’s simply right
Now the votes are in; it begins tonight
There’s a remnant of history
I am never going to miss
I’m in a New York state of bliss

It was so different, living day by day
Out of luck, and the bigots bring the blues
But now I see a little give and take
In The New York Times, The Daily News

It comes down to reality
And it’s fine with me, ‘cause it’s simply right
Now the votes are in; it begins tonight
There’s a remnant of history
I am never going to miss
I’m in a New York state of bliss

I’m just watching the live stream
And I’m waiting for the kiss
I’m in a New York state of bliss

(With apologies to Billy Joel.)

Flat Earth Thinking, At The Supreme Cart

The Supreme Cartographer, known perhaps
As the final word in the world of maps,
Was told that science had recently found
(To his great surprise) that the world was round.
That as accurate as his maps might appear
He’d improve them at once by assuming a sphere
The idea was new, but the data were strong
And in hindsight it should have been clear all along
It may be unsettling, different, or strange,
But the world is a sphere, and the graphics must change

The Cartographer, though, had (it seemed, since his birth)
Been consistently drawing a pancake-flat earth
These round-planet notions were modern and bold
And the data, while solid, were not very old
“Supposing I change” he surmised, with a cough,
“And a ship finds the edge of the world and falls off?”
His world had been flat now, for thousands of years,
Doing fine, till this radical notion appears.
“The data are strong, but tradition is stronger…
Let’s keep the world flat for a little bit longer.”

Inspired by Justice Alito:

The one thing that the parties in this case seem to agree on is that marriage is very important. It’s thought to be a fundamental building block of society and its preservation essential for the preservation of society. Traditional marriage has been around for thousands of years. Same-sex marriage is very new. I think it was first adopted in The Netherlands in 2000. So there isn’t a lot of data about its effect. And it may turn out to be a — a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good thing, as the supporters of Proposition 8 apparently believe.

But you want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the Internet? I mean we — we are not — we do not have the ability to see the future.

People I Know

Where to begin? In no particular order…

D. D is a conservative republican heterosexual woman. She’s been married twice; divorced, then widowed. She’s on the market. Actively. Has never wanted children (in part, this led to the end of marriage #1), but very much likes being married.

M & K. The brother of a friend of mine, and his (male) partner. Not married (their state does not allow it), just together for 27 years so far. They adopted 2 kids—AIDS babies nobody else wanted—and loved them their entire lives, and mourned their inevitable deaths. Among the best people I know.

V & P. I love these people. A heterosexual married couple, they never had their own biological kids—I don’t know if this was by choice or not, and it’s none of my business. They adopted 3 kids from halfway across the world, and received anonymous threats because their children had darker skin than they did. Their kids grew up to be wonderful adults; I just ran into their youngest a little bit ago (she was in my daycare when first in the US) and I was delighted to see what a wonderful adult she had become.

V & H. Different V, of course. These were my neighbors, quite possibly the best neighbors in the history of neighbors. Two women, one son. He’s now engaged (to a woman, not that it matters), and a wonderful man; for a time, he was my son’s best friend (despite being a year older and in a different class in school). V & H (I can say this, since I am not really identifying them) each wanted to marry the other, but had to move to another state (for job reasons) before either of them popped the question. As of today, they are not married, but they have raised a fine son who is about to be.

S & V. Another different V—it seems I know a lot of V’s. Two adopted kids (from Korea), one biological. A wonderful family.

V & H. completely different from the V & H above. V was divorced, with 3 kids; H proposed to him while she was pregnant with his 4th.

B & J. my uncle and aunt. He was a pastor. Three kids (my cousins), then he left her for his true love, a catholic priest.

H & M. Cuttlespouse’s uncle and aunt. Again, a pastor. Again, three kids. Stayed with the marriage; abused the kids. They don’t speak to him any more.

C & C. And K & Y. And D & D. and C & L. Heterosexuals, married, with kids. Three out of four of them are in favor of same-sex marriage. The other couple have religious reasons to oppose.

I could go on. Easily.

Relationships are more than a spectrum; they are a spectrum of spectra, along multiple orthogonal variables. Variability is the only constant; there are exceptions to every rule. Heterosexuals, and homosexuals, adopt. And have surrogates, or IVF. Or choose not to have kids at all. If you want to protect children through the institution of marriage, don’t look at who is getting married; look at what people do. There are bad parents of every stripe; there are good parents of every stripe.

In my opinion, there are two paths here. You can start with the constitution, and try to justify unequal treatment under the law… and fail. Or you can start with the evidence, trying to show systematically better parenting among heterosexuals than homosexuals… and fail.

Ok, there is a third path. You can recognize reality. But, really, who expects the courts to take that path?

Marriage Week: Equality Stops At The Border

I’ve been following, as best as an ignorant mollusk can, the analysis of the recent decisions by the Supreme Court to take on a couple of cases on same-sex marriage. What I can’t wrap my head around, though, is that there appears to be a very real chance that same-sex marriage will be the law of the land… only in part of the land.

I just can’t see it happening. It’s just too… “a house divided against itself” springs to mind. So an encore, today, just because of the last line. I wrote this when New York passed SSM (which made me happy, cos I was married in NY). [Read more...]

Marriage Week: Larry And Robert

Larry and Robert are married.
They live in a house on our street.
They’re wonderfully helpful as neighbors,
And as nice as you’re likely to meet.

Their son is a friend of our daughter’s
Their daughter, a friend of our son’s;
If you’re looking for light conversation,
Or for helpful advice, they’re the ones. (continues, after the jump:) [Read more...]

Marriage Week: No Disrespect…

In honor of the SCOTUS taking up the issue of same-sex marriage, I am posting some of my previous verses–some in celebration, others to highlight why change is needed. Oh, and it’s “Marriage Week”, not “Same-Sex Marriage Week”, because I looked at my Cuttlefish University benefits package, and throughout it, benefits are offered to “spouse or same-sex spouse”… and I thought, this is either redundant or separate-but-equal (thus, unequal). It’s just “marriage”. I’m sure the guests will figure out from context whether it’s same-sex or not, but the process is the same, and the vocabulary does not need an additional adjective.

First up, from 2011…

Our daughter’s getting married!
What a joyous, joyous day!
But we’re going to skip the wedding,
Cos you see, our daughter’s gay.

We love her more than life itself
And love her wife-to-be;
We’d never be judgmental, but
We simply can’t agree!

I mean no disrespect, of course,
I love her to the core—
It’s just that, when it comes to this,
I love religion more.

comments, after the jump:
[Read more...]