Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Same Sex Marriage in Indiana

I've been very, very, horribly depressed lately. The past 2 or 3 weeks I've woken up every morning on the verge of tears and physically ill at the thought of going to work (or anywhere out of my bed, which is kind of a safe haven). My muscles and joints hurt constantly. I have dizzy spells, crying outbursts, migraines. Once I'm at work an hour or so I feel better (I like my job, my boss, my coworkers... It isn't a bad job, albeit frustrating at times as you climb higher in the managerial ladder, and I only work 24 hours a week). My anxiety has been high, thus leading my blood pressure to be higher. On my days off, I sleep 12, 13, 14 hours straight through, not budging to so much as go pee (unless I sleepwalk to the bathroom, which I've done since I was potty trained and especially when my anxiety is high). GAD and bipolar disorder are a shitty, unavoidable aspect of my life, and while I hate it, I accept it, and ultimately that and having incredibly supportive friends and family gets me through even the worst days.

So this morning when I woke up a little after 1pm, I grabbed my phone (like I always do) to see if I'd received any texts from people who wake up at a reasonable time. The first thing I see is a breaking news notification from WTHR (and Indy news station whose app I have on my phone) saying that a federal judge has struck down Indiana's same sex marriage ban, and that the Marion County clerk (Indianapolis's county, for non-Hoosiers) is issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples (at, at the time of proofreading, Hamilton County has also started issuing them).

I practically leapt from bed in joy. I texted my mom, a long time equal marriage supporter, who was at work at the conservative Christian school where she's worked for ~20 years. She texted back an enthusiastic, "Alright!" I told my husband, who's having a bit of a rough day, and it seemed to lift his spirits some, too. I immediately started posting on social media, and found so many fellow Hoosiers were just as excited, proud, and overjoyed as I am. It was like a big warm hug.

Last August 3rd, I married my husband D in a pseudo-nontraditional wedding. We're both non-religious (I'm atheist, he's agnostic), so we had a ULC-ordained friend (the husband of my MoH) marry us. It was outdoors on the band shell of a huge, beautiful park here in town (a band shell I've performed on many times). We had mixed-gender wedding parties, the men didn't wear jackets, the women wore color coordinated (pink if they were bridesmaids, turquoise if they were groomsmen) dresses but picked their own styles (though we all wore knee-to-tea-length dresses). I shrugged off the traditional Wedding March and instead walked down the aisle to "Dreams" by the Cranberries. My father didn't walk me down the aisle, as he passed away in 1999, but I wore a charm with his picture in it on my shoe. My stepdad was openly irritated that I didn't let him walk me down, but deep down I know that even if my dad were alive, all 3 of my parents would have walked with me (D and I are feminists, and one man handing me off to another to make sure I always have a dude around to keep me in line is a bit antithetical to everything we stand for). Our first dance at our reception (in a large building a few yeards away from the ceremony site) wasn't to a sultry Ella Fitzgerald song but rather "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" by Neautral Milk Hotel. All-in-all it was a beautiful, perfect, wonderful day.

However, I am not, "straight married" just because I have a vagina and my husband has a penis. My husband is heterosexual, but I'm pansexual. I also consider myself very much genderqueer/gender nonconforming. I like pretty things and tend to be okay with she/her/hers and other feminine pronouns and dress primarily in a way one would expect a cisgender woman to dress (dresses are fun, pretty, breathable, and don't require pants!) On Facebook I am listed as gender nonconforming and have they/them/their as I preferred pronoun setting (ex. On my birthday, my friends are told "Wish them a happy birthday!" instead of "Wish her a happy birthday!"). If I woke up tomorrow with a penis, I would probably be the only one who wouldn't have to make any kind of major adjustments to my new hangy-down outside of rediscovering how my pants fit (but I'll say it again: Dresses don't require pants!)

So being in what, on the outside, looks like a "straight marriage" is pretty easy. I took my husband's last name (honestly, I just liked it better than my own. It's half the length and easier to pronounce). I wore an ivory dress (close enough to white, right?) that I bought at a bridal shop. We didn't do a handfasting (as much as I would've liked to tbh) or other nontraditional ceremony, but it was and continues to be a pretty "traditional" marriage (though *gasp* we lived together and did lots of sex prior to having our relationship on paper and filed with the gub'mint as a marriage). We have an apartment, a cat, pizza nights, and a shared health insurance plan through his employer. But goddammit, it is not a "straight marriage".

I never had any doubts about marrying my husband. None. I didn't want a long engagement because I didn't want the stress of wedding planning to go longer than necessary (we were engaged about 10 months), but I was never afraid of us NOT being together for the long haul. I knew after our second date that he was ~*The One*~. On our third, he said "I love you". Two months in, we got engaged when I popped the question, pantsless and in a tattered-up Queers shirt in his apartment in Chicago, where he moved just a month after we started dating (a pre-planned move that we both were aware of before our first date). We got married a year to the day we first met IRL (we'd met on a dating site about a week prior). What I'm saying is, marriage was inevitable and not urgent outside of my anxiety disorder needing me to not have wedding planning on my plate for any longer than necessary (because I am WAY too particular to allow someone else to plan my wedding. I mean, kudos if you had or are a wedding planner, but I just cannot fathom that as an option for me).

However, since our engagement in 2013, I've felt this little nagging inside of me. I've fully enjoyed the benefits of straight privilege for almost a year now, because no one questions it when two people of the opposite sex marry. Not friends and family when you announce your engagement, not the county clerk when you get your marriage license, not the parks department when booking your location, no one. It's such a default expectation that a man and a woman around the same age would marry that no one bats an eye. But I'm NOT straight. I'm NOT "female" by traditional definition. I'm not any more heterosexual or cisgender now that I'm married than I was before I was married. But I didn't have to fight to marry my partner because he has a dong and I don't.

This case is not about me, so please don't think I'm celebrating this ruling because it helps my conscience. If my husband came to me right now and said, "I'm transgender. I want to begin hormone therapy." or "I'm transgender, I was born with a vagina", my marriage wouldn't be any different, because at the end of the day, laws cannot dictate the human condition, and love is a part of the human condition. So why in the hell until today does Indiana consider my love and marriage more valid than someone else's because of our genitalia? I know what being in love to the point of wanting to be married is. And I was allowed to do that, because I'm a "woman" and my husband is a man. But it's absolute bullshit that that is a deciding factor. I've never felt so happy and complete in my life than I do now that I feel I've found the most complementary human being to myself to spend my life with, and nobody questions it. If my husband had a vagina, I wouldn't question my devotion or love, and the fact that up until yesterday the state I love, was born and raised in, and will always call home was not only allowed but legally obligated to question the validity and morality of the love between two people based on anatomical features is disgraceful, archaic, and embarrassing.

Love is real and beautiful and exciting, regardless of what anyone else thinks. And the fact that this kind of legal discrimination is no longer in place is such a breath of fresh air. Because now I'm not part of some exclusive "club". Marriage is not so sacred that it denotes heteronormative exclusivity. It isn't just for the straight or straight-appearing. It's for the lovers. You can't outlaw fear or happiness or sadness based on anatomy. They're emotions -albeit very strong ones- and part of being human. Love is another powerful force within the human condition. People in love have a fire for one another that would send them to hell and back without fear if it meant the other was happy and healthy. It's almost supernatural. It's a high. It's a rush to be in love. That love doesn't stop at the courthouse doors just because the law says so. The law does not change humanity, it protects it. And we don't need to be protected from mutual, powerful, passionate love. We need protected from those who seek to deny life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to others.

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